Veracity the practice, the habit of making a right use of speech

The fourth of the great virtues is truthfulness, a moral quality that seems to be in short supply in our world today. Veracity is a term used to designate the idea and though that can be associated with the pursuit of truthfulness, of faithfulness and honesty. Some people view this pile of conflicting ideas as a controversial and have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as truth. Some believe that truth is an endlessly malleable substance, in which deconstruction and interpretation are at the heart of the ideology. This would mean that every view point would be valid in some way. Even though some will argue that this is right and some that it is wrong, being truthful will always be doing the right thing the moral action to benefit ourselves and others for good. Some say that the world is not an infinitely malleable thing but could it be? What tells us that our truthfulness is the same as the person sitting next to us? If our idea of good is the same as everybody's idea of good. The world is an independent place governed by physical principles that we cannot change, but that we can come to know.

Being truthful to others

Being truthful as some may say means to conform to a strict policy of honesty and openness. Although there are cases where dishonesty is not just acceptable but morally obligatory, the vast majority of our interactions in the world with others demand conscientious honesty. This shows that is isn't just about refraining from giving deceptive information but as an honest act to inform. Deception by the deliberate omission of information, though perhaps less immoral than outright lying, is still deception.

Being truthful also means being dependable and trustworthy. To be virtuous, it is important not just that our words be truthful, but that our actions be truthful and consistent with what we have promised. When we commit ourselves to do something, we should follow through, and failing in our obligations – whether through malice or even through simple forgetfulness – is an ethical lapse that calls for reparation. As philosophers such as Immanuel Kant have written, truthfulness is a prerequisite both for building a stable, lawful society and engaging in meaningful interaction with others, so living up to one’s words is important not only on an individual level but also on the level of the community.

I personally think that the most important of all is being truthful to oneself. It can be very easy to lie to someone, but the fact that you are not directly affect you, facilitates this action whether morally good or wrong. Honesty will always be easier and less effortful than having to constantly improve a lie. On the other hand, self-deception is very present in relying solely on past experiences. We refer to this as some sort of dogmatism where none other than your opinion is the truth. "A person who says things such as “I just know it’s true,” while being unable to present convincing evidence for that assertion, is in a very real way lying to themself."

When Lieing Is Truthful

The first example that I have heard of that thoroughly depicts veracity was of a Jewish man renting a room in the apartment of a Christian woman during the holocaust. The Nazis’ were going around from house to house looking for Jews to arrest and kill. Sometimes when a non-Jewish person opened the door it was enough for the Nazis’ to hear “there are no Jews here” in order for them to move on to the next house.

The Jewish man and Christian woman were on good terms. There’s no reason for her to give up an innocent person. Some people stay firmly in their beliefs: The woman said “I am an honest Christian, I have never lied in my life, and if the Nazis’ ask me if there are any Jews in my apartment, I will have to tell them about you.” However, the man in desperation took matters into his own hands found a way so that the Christian women wouldn't lie but save his life. Since the apartment beside the women's was owned by the man she could say "their are no jews in my apartment". This misleading sentence would save lives but by being truthful. This truthfulness, to being a good person, and not a conspirator in the Nazi murder went above and beyond honesty.

The second example was told by Rabbi Shippel who was faced with a situation where a doctor had to tell a 93 year old woman of her husband’s cancer. To make a long story short, she died two days after hearing the terrible news, while her husband lived for several more years in good health. The doctor had basically killed this woman by communicating this information to her, against what the Rabbi had advised him to do. The doctor was just doing his job, and being honest, but he wasn’t being truthful to the greater cause, which is making sure people are living healthy. When honesty fails to be on the same wavelength as truthfulness it must be abandoned. In this way, a lie will be the truth.

The story of Naaman Healed of Leprosy: 2 Kings 5:19-27.

19 “Go in peace,” Elisha said.

After Naaman had traveled some distance, 20 Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said to himself, “My master was too easy on Naaman, this Aramean, by not accepting from him what he brought. As surely as the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.”

21 So Gehazi hurried after Naaman. When Naaman saw him running toward him, he got down from the chariot to meet him. “Is everything all right?” he asked.

22 “Everything is all right,” Gehazi answered. “My master sent me to say, ‘Two young men from the company of the prophets have just come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them a talent[d] of silver and two sets of clothing.’”

23 “By all means, take two talents,” said Naaman. He urged Gehazi to accept them, and then tied up the two talents of silver in two bags, with two sets of clothing. He gave them to two of his servants, and they carried them ahead of Gehazi. 24 When Gehazi came to the hill, he took the things from the servants and put them away in the house. He sent the men away and they left.

25 When he went in and stood before his master, Elisha asked him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?”

“Your servant didn’t go anywhere,” Gehazi answered.

26 But Elisha said to him, “Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money or to accept clothes—or olive groves and vineyards, or flocks and herds, or male and female slaves? 27 Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.” Then Gehazi went from Elisha’s presence and his skin was leprous—it had become as white as snow.

In this Bible story, God used Elisha to help heal Naaman of his leprosy. After he was healed, Naaman was so thankful, he offered Elisha a gift, but Elisha refused to take it. Later, Elisha’s servant, who was named Gehazi, ran after Naaman and pretended that Elisha had changed his mind and did want a gift after all. Naaman happily gave Gehazi silver and clothing. But God showed Elisha everything that had happened, and how Gehazi had lied. The punishment for his deceitfulness was the dreadful disease leprosy – the very thing Naaman had been healed of. Gehazi not only lost the trust of his master, but he also lost his health. The moral of the story as always in the Bible says lies are not the way to achieve. It is not worth gaining any material possessions if it means we lose the trust of others.

In the short video above, we try to define what truth means today in our society.

Here are a few quotes relating to the virtue of veracity

“The only ethical principle which has made science possible is that the truth shall be told all the time. If we do not penalize false statements made in error, we open up the way for false statements by intention. And a false statement of fact, made deliberately, is the most serious crime a scientist can commit.” ― Dorothy L. Sayers, Gaudy Night

“Some people live disconnected, in a world of their own. Their wishful thinking represents their sole veracity. But when the mirror smashes the reflection of their delusion, it will not falter to talk back. ( "The day the mirror was talking back" )” ― Erik Pevernagie

“Whatever you tell; lie or truth, can both destroy or save you.” ― Michael Bassey Johnson

  1. http://biblehub.com/sermons/auth/watson/the_right_use_of_speech.htm
  2. http://www.alexshalman.com/2008/07/16/honesty-vs-truthfulness-the-virtuous-human/
  3. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Kings+5&version=NIV
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfTx_8iZ3KA
  5. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/veracity
  6. https://www.google.com/search?q=veracity&client=safari&rls=en&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjcgJuaoKrSAhWLjVQKHSxADogQ_AUICigD&biw=1280&bih=651#tbm=isch&q=v+for+vendetta&*&imgrc=u-UKR_44RZsLAM:
  7. https://www.gotquestions.org/Elisha-and-Naaman.html
  8. http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-46EF4zTNyw0/VPza71mgvzI/AAAAAAAAHU0/ksrUMUNOkpM/s1600/naaman80.jpg
  9. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/2007/02/be-truthful/
  10. https://bible.org/seriespage/16-faith-fear-genesis-1210-134

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