“No legacy is so rich as honesty.”
– William Shakespeare
Since time immemorial, humans have held honesty aloft as a virtue, with Truth as the ultimate good. This is hardly surprising; after all, what society could survive long without Truth as its backbone? Greek orator Aeschines claimed that “Truth is strong enough to overcome all human sophistries”, while Roman scholar Cicero stated that “man is distinguished by his pursuit and investigation of Truth”. Shakespeare too extolled the virtue of leading an honest life.
More recently, 19th century German poet Goethe wrote that “nothing is great but Truth, and the smallest truth is great”, while the English novelist and poet Dinah Craik quipped that “no virtue ever was founded on a lie”. Judge William Clark, echoing the sentiment of jurists through the ages, stressed that “we believe truth is more important than the trouble it takes to get it”.
The problem in the 21st century is not that Truth is being challenged, but rather that it has been knocked off its pedestal: for many, Truth simply no longer matters. Except it does; it matters a lot. If we are to survive and flourish, Truth must be restored to its rightful place as a light to guide us. The alternative is positively Orwellian.