How would you answer this question?
For the past couple years I’ve enjoyed being an active participant on Quora, the crowd-source platform where people ask questions to the global Quora community in search of new points of view on personal issues, history or trivia. While some questions seem silly (e.g. Where can I download xyz mp3 songs for free?), and others a bit too personal (e.g. What shocking thing did you find out about your grandparent after they died?), there are actually some interesting and thought-provoking questions being asked.
One feature of the site is that inquirers can ask their questions directly to specific people, or batches of people. And so it was that I was asked earlier this fall, “What is the hardest truth?”
Before sharing my own thoughts, I am curious what your response may have been? If asked, “What is the hardest truth?” how would you reply?
For me, the first thought that came to mind was President John F. Kennedy’s observation that life is not fair. Here is the actual quote: “There is always inequity in life,” he said. “Some men are killed in a war and some men are wounded, and some men never leave the country, and some men are stationed in the Antarctic and some are stationed in San Francisco. It’s very hard in military or in personal life to assure complete equality. Life is unfair.” The applications are numerous, especially in this contentious, politically-charged acrimonious age.
The second hard truth is that our hearts are deceitful, or to quote from the Scriptures, “the heart is deceitful above all things.” As a result, we do not see things as they are. We excuse ourselves for our own bad behavior and can be merciless toward others. In many other ways we are blind to our own selfishness, pride, insensitivity and more. Seeing the truth about ourselves is very painful, so we avoid looking it square in the eye.
A third truth that is also hard pertains to how chained we are by habit, genetic disposition, the formative influence of our upbringing, our tastes and our temperament. For this reason, change is exceedingly hard. We’re as broken and distorted as the world we live in, and becoming whole is far more difficult than we imagine.
I’m reminded here of a pair of lines from a poem which I recorded in a journal long ago.
Does the road wind uphill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Does the day’s journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night my friend.
And here is the paradox. Despite the pain, our manifold struggles, the inequities, our personal demons, and the world’s injustice and brokenness, there is so much beauty everywhere, all around us if we would but open our eyes to see it, our ears to hear it and our souls to feel it.