Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Seeking Out Truth

Sister Roberta Werner has recently written a book, Reaching for God. The book, which is a compendium of Benedictine life and prayer for the lay person, will be published by Liturgical Press in June 2013 (for more information, go to www.litpress.org )

The experience I had while recently writing my book was full of opportunities to reflect on the importance of the interconnectedness of humankind, and the need we have to continue the search for accurate information, and clear, truthful communication. Here is an example of my recent experience of the necessity to go beyond the obvious and the “given” to continue to search for truth. I was quite sure that a certain source I had found offered a correct translation of a specific Latin text I hoped to quote in my book, but I could not rest until I confirmed the accuracy of the translated passages. In my quest for the truth I went back to the original Latin document; then contacted 10 people whose forte was Latin and gave them a copy of the original medieval Latin text whose translation I sought. Six of the people claimed in their modesty that the passage was too difficult, but four tackled it. SURPRISE! All four agreed that the printed translation I had discovered was incorrect, and that the meaning was indeed the opposite of what that original translator had stated.

I can’t help but wonder how often in our culture we accept as true the data, the reports, the statements, the quotes that are fed to us by the media and greet us from the printed page. By the time the news reaches us, has the essence of the truth been changed? Has the report been transmitted by someone who had an axe to grind or by those who sifted it through their personal emotional filter before transmitting it? I’m not advising total skepticism, but I do think that I shall be even more careful from now on to go to the source, to treasure truth even more intensely. How can we trust when there is casual transmission of facts? How can we even be sure of developing a relationship with any content (or even any person) if there is hypocrisy, double-talk, information taken out of context? Time and again my experiences have taught me to be careful to check my sources regarding any type of information. Hitler, and others before and after him, have proved that if a lie is told often enough, people start to believe it is truth. Hopefully I am continuing to learn to first seek, search, probe for truth, and thus come closer to what really is.

Roberta Werner, OSB

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