I saw a great many castles while traveling through Europe during my youth and one in particular caught my fancy. Pictured above, the Neuschwanstein castle (“New Swan Rock”) is a magical edifice built upon Swan Rock, a massive stone outcropping overlooking Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwestern Bavaria. A powerful symbol for a life built upon a foundation of truth, Neuschwanstein is also incidentally the original model of the castle that has captured the imagination of generations of children, Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.
On that note and on this, my 600th consecutive daily post, I am privileged to share with you helpful words of instruction from Mr. William George Jordan on the matter of raising children:
“Truth is the straight line in morals. It is the shortest distance between a fact and the expression of it. The foundations of truth should ever be laid in childhood. It is then that parents should instill into the young mind the instant, automatic turning to truth, making it the constant atmosphere of the mind and life. Let the child know that ‘Truth above all things’ should be the motto of its life. Parents make a great mistake when they look upon a lie as a disease in morals; it is not always a disease in itself, it is but a symptom. Behind every untruth is some reason, some cause, and it is this cause that should be removed. The lie may be the result of fear, the attempt to cover a fault and to escape punishment; it may be merely the evidence of an over-active imagination; it may reveal maliciousness or obstinacy; it may be the hunger for praise that leads the child to win attention and to startle others by wonderful stories; it may be merely carelessness in speech, the reckless use of words; it may be acquisitiveness that makes lying the handmaid of theft. But if, in the life of the child or the adult, the symptom be made to reveal the disease, and that be then treated, truth reasserts itself and the moral health is restored.
Constantly telling a child not to lie is giving life and intensity to ‘the lie.’ The true method is to quicken the moral muscles from the positive side, urge the child to be honest, to be faithful, to be loyal, and to be fearless to the truth. Tell him ever of the nobility of courage to speak the true, to live the right, to hold fast to principles of honor in every trifle—then he need never fear to face any of life’s crises.
The parent must live truth or the child will not live it. The child will startle you with its quickness in puncturing the bubble of your pretended knowledge; in instinctively piercing the heart of a sophistry without being conscious of process; in relentlessly enumerating your unfulfilled promises; in detecting with the justice of a court of equity a technicality of speech that is virtually a lie. He will justify his own lapses from truth by appeal to some white lie told to a visitor, and unknown to be overheard by the little one, whose mental powers we ever underestimate in theory though we may over-praise in words.
Teach the child in a thousand ways, directly and indirectly, the power of truth, the beauty of truth, and the sweetness and rest of companionship with truth.
And if it be the rock-foundation of the child character, as a fact, not as a theory, the future of that child is as fully assured as it is possible for human prevision to guarantee.”
As I’ve mentioned before it is much easier to carry on about what’s wrong than it is to articulate what is right, especially in an inspiring way. It has been my aim in this blog to share my perspective on the truth in as many ways as possible. The truth is marvelous and majestic, beautiful beyond words. Its principles and laws are impervious to human tinkering and any attempt to bend it in one’s favor is cast away like water off a duck’s back.
Human beings have long satisfied themselves with the temporary appearance of having circumvented the truth. They treat the truth as something that can be bartered, something external to themselves like a magic trinket. They turn to it as a measure of last resort, rather than resting their head upon its bosom all the days of their lives. Well, the truth is that such an approach is destined to implode once sufficient weight and pressure are placed upon its faulty foundation.
No matter how impressive, elaborate or seemingly “too large to fail” humanly-devised substitutes to the truth have been at any point in history – great religious and secular institutions, vast libraries of knowledge, ingenious systems of governance, long-standing dynasties and the like – the truth remains unchanged, untarnished by time and always available to be known. The veil which sits between knowing of it and actually knowing it varies in thickness depending on the level of consciousness of mankind and despite the appearance of progress on the surface, the most apparently advanced civilizations on the surface are often the farthest from the truth.
Enough about humanity. What about you?
Are you too enamored with all the world has to offer to fall in love with the truth? Are you too busy to bother yourself with the pursuit of truth? Are you too impressed by that which has usurped the seat of authority of truth to have faith in the power and importance of truth in your life? Are you too tired from making a name for yourself, leaving your mark or landing the “big one” to work for the truth in every detail of your living?