“The truth is always dangerous because once you know it you have to do something about it.” ~Azar Nafisi
Yesterday I went to hear Azar Nafisi, one of my favorite authors, speak about the cultural landscape of Iran and how understanding that landscape can open the way to cross-cultural dialogue. The quote above is my favorite from her talk, and it resonates so deeply with me because of the past year I’ve had when so many truths within my own life and in the world itself have come to light in stark, and often frightening, reality.
Once we know the truth, we can’t unknow it. We can try to ignore it, even deceive ourselves into thinking it’s not there. Truth is relentless—it will grow louder, larger, and stronger until it finally gets its share of the limelight. It will not move on quietly. It demands to be noticed and addressed.
The truth will set you free, though free in this case has a very specific meaning. It will free us from old paradigms, habits, and routines, and this isn’t always easy. Actually, it’s almost never easy. Truth sets us free to see ourselves and those around us as we truly are, not as we imagine. Truth rips off the veil; it strips away the lens and the filters that alter our reality. And this is a very good, albeit difficult, thing.
With the truth, we can have a real and lasting impact. We can move forward with confidence and conviction, and we can help others do the same. The truth makes us lighter, makes it possible to imagine and then create new realities that are sustainable and richer than the half-truths that we had before.
Maybe you’re in the midst of confronting some prickly truths, realizing that things were not as they so long appeared to be. I certainly am, and so are many others. You’re not alone in your discoveries, and you’re certainly not alone in trying to make peace and purpose with them. This is a part of the human experience. It’s something that binds all of us together, across every culture, race, religion, gender, language, and even across time. We’re in this together.