The truth amid our unavoidable biases

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

HOW can we see the truth amid our unavoidable biases and other conditionings that affect how we see, judge and react to things? The simple answer is to be like Christ who himself said that he is “the way, the truth and the life.”

Thus, in the gospel (cfr. Lk 6,39-42) Christ said: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit?” And then he gives a clue on how to resolve that predicament by saying, “No disciple is superior to the teacher,” somehow pointing to the fact that for one to know the truth, he has to follow the teacher who is Christ himself.

That we have unavoidable biases and other conditionings that affect how we see, judge and react to things is somehow alluded to when Christ said, “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?”

We have to be constantly aware of this constant predicament of ours and try our best to deal with it properly by trying to be like Christ, that is, to see, judge and react to things the way Christ sees, judges and reacts to them.

In this raging controversy about alleged historical revisionism now still ongoing in our political scene, we should remember that the truth about the issues involved does not depend solely on facts that supposedly the parties involved can cite. Facts and data can be cold, that is, they can only be external appearances of things without the proper spirit of truth and charity that should animate them.

Truth is not simply about facts and data. It has to have the proper spirit. It cannot simply be historical, since many things considered as historical are only facts and data that can be understood, interpreted and used by people according to the spirit that motivates them.

The Bible itself is not all historical. It is not simply a litany of facts. It has historical facts, of course, but it also uses all kinds of literary devices to proclaim the truths of our faith. Christ, for example, used parables, similes, metaphors and hyperboles to convey precious lessons which are truths.

Thus, unless we see things through Christ who said that he is the light of the world (cfr Jn 9), we actually cannot see things as they ought to be seen. If we simply rely on our senses and even on our intelligence, but without Christ through the exercise of our faith, we actually are blind. This we have to acknowledge.

We need to be more aware of this predicament of ours and start to develop and use the appropriate means to correct, if not avoid, that delicate situation. We need to be humble and to always feel the need to be with God even in our most intimate thoughts, let alone, our words, deeds and public interventions.

There is actually no other way to correctly and properly understand and react to things and events in our life. We have to be wary of our tendency to rely solely on our human estimations of things, quite independent, if not contrary to the way God understands them.

In fact, not only should we be guarded against this tendency. Rather, we should also actively fight it, converting it into what is our proper way of thinking, judging and reasoning. And that is to do all these spiritual operations with God as the main guide and inspiration.

That way, we can see the truth always in charity, which is how truth should be!