So what do we know about the truth?

FTLComm - Tisdale - October 22, 2000


I have told you before about the truth, I have told you that it is not what is, but what indeed people believe is, or even more sinister, what they silently agree to be the truth for them. The Christians of six centuries ago and for more than a century thereafter had reached a point where truth was being questioned and with it the authority that was claiming responsibility for determining the truth. Few other occasions in recorded history have seen such truly remarkable manipulations of what is and what might be, as the period known as the reformation and the the counterreformation that is often referred to as the time of the inquisition.



deadly determination

It is fascinating to see the Protestant movement claim the high ground in the conflicts that seethed around the establishment of non-Roman Catholic Christian religions and then observe those same religions conduct religious purges of their own, often just as violent as the inquisition, as witchcraft and other heracies, were pursued with deadly determination. It is not the approach of "all hallows eve" that prompts this discussion, but the picture Judy took this morning that made me consider "the truth".



addition confusion

This picture shows a truly disturbed sky with low level cumulus whipped by high southern warm winds, with streaming stratus layers above, making a convolving mixture of light fumbling its way through the murk of dawn. This is a picture of truth. As I looked at it, I realised that the camera had reacted to the bright light of the sun and darkened the foreground, so I dutifully lightened that area, then I looked over the complex cloud formations and realised that if I increased the contrast slightly, the texture of the clouds would become more obvious to you. I had indeed altered the rendering of the CCD of the camera, but my frail attempt to compensate for its frailties, introduced addition confusion and was that truth?



truth is
not finite

Dealing with reality is not the realm of photographers alone, but each of us in our own way, are forced over and over to consider reality and re-portray it as we perceive, or sometimes would like it to be. Is that deception? Like the sky, truth is not finite or even a little clear, it is a work in progress.



honest for
one whole day

You will recall the comedy starring Canadian Jim Carey called "Liar, Liar" where a lawyer is forced to be honest for one whole day and of course we realise the comedic situation and its terrifying closeness to the real world, as we discover that indeed this could well be a Herculean task for a lawyer to be honest.




The world of truth is not abused in court on the scale it is in banks. In the first two years of Faster Than Light Communications Andrew and I set about negotiating capital equipment bank loans three times and discovered to our utter amazement that of all the tasks we might encounter in business, this one act most severely tested our integrity. The very nature of the loan applications demanded that we declare the future. Business plans and income flow tables are complete and utter horse poop, the bankers know it, we know it, yet without them, without lies, no loan is ever made. There is this tacit agreement between customer and banker that foretelling the future is a surety The banker uses terms like "comfort" to describe his reduced anxiety that comes with being able to claim all that you might have, or ever have, to secure the trivial amount of money he agrees to lend.




We discovered that the time taken to complete the second loan, which was for a small amount of money, exceeded the amount of money in the loan, in terms of the lost earnings from the time taken to create the documents and produce the "comfort" for the banker.



to inform

It is both a blessing and curse that due to some quirk of fate I am such an incompetent liar that I long ago abandoned the practice because I was unable to deceive anyone. But what I have discovered, and must humbly confess, that deception is not the only force, falsehoods can take. I am guilty of and ashamed of, the most heinous of truth crimes and that is lack of disclosure. Failure to inform, or to permit a mistaken belief to persist, is dead wrong and Andrew and I held some long and deep discussions about how we felt business should be conducted and agreed to conduct ourselves in the most forthright manner possible, but throughout the five years of FTLComm, disclosure by others to us and at times the realisation that we had failed to inform, was a serious problem.



real secret
of success

I want you to take a look at the successful and respected businesses in your town and measure them on a truth scale, and you will discover that the ones that have built their reputation and continue to command respect, are those who have found ways to tell the truth, as best they can, and inform their customers, as best they can. In business it is the real secret of success.



really counts

As I return to the world of education and see the intrigue of politics at all levels, I realise the importance of establishing a personal strong creed of honesty with oneself. There is a play of deception and pervasive distrust in every social order and environment, but as in business, integrity really counts.



we had
done our

Many years ago I remember a very tightly knit community I was working within, when a disclosure occurred to myself and several of my staff members, of suspicion of sexual impropriety of family adults and their children. In a staff meeting, I glumly told them the simple truth. Our knowledge and the legal responsibility that came with it, would end employment in that community. That meeting was in November and in May every one of us who had been involved in receiving the disclosure did not have our contracts renewed. We all took our leave cheerfully, simply because I had been aware enough to let them all know months in advance, of their impending doom and each had taken that time to secure employment elsewhere. We all left the place without regret, or remorse, the community had protected itself and its secret and we had done our duty.



to our

It is important for you to know that truth and honesty are not virtues. They are instead the way to behave and one should never expect to be treated fairly just for being right, or doing the right thing. The reality is, there is no alternative, and consequences are just consequences, neither good nor bad, just results. It is what you do with those consequence, do you turn them into opportunities, or allow them to weigh upon you as perceived failure. Looking back on the story I told you, every one of us found employment and had absolutely positive and rewarding career moves. We all gained, none of us experience a loss, we were better and would be able to meet the next challenge to our integrity with assurance that doing the right thing may temporarily cost us, but we would do so without a moment's hesitation.
Timothy W. Shire