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lead them to discover for themselves the nature of
beauty, truth, and goodness. Yet those in power
thought that effort subversive. And in a sense, of
course, they were right, it was. Truth can be the
most subversive element in a society, at least in a
society that is not essentially true. For people whose
characteristic and essential nature is not imbued
with a love for truth, truth speakers are at best em-
barrassing and at worst subversive.
What a dreadful thing to point out to young men
who are about to commence their journey to 1989!
But if what I say is factual tthough not pleasingi, then
what is one to do out there in a world dominated by
a realpolitik habit of mind? loin it if he can't beat it?
That is one way - Pilate's, Stalin's, the used car
salesman's. But I can't buy it. My God, I can't stom-
ach it! And so this is my answer, and to avoid the
charge of banality I shall quote from Sophocles:
"Truth is always best," regardless of the surface real-
ities ofa given context.
My word to you departing Seniors, and, indeed,
my word to anyone, and my word to myself as I too
depart Colorado Academy, is that in spite of the pain
and sorrow that adherence to truth and integrity
brings with it, still that is better than anything else.
The spirit of the law of truth quickensg the lying let-
ter kills, and, surely, a live life is superior to a death-
ly one. And in the long run it is a happier one. Na-
thaniel Hawthorne, speaking of false, wretched Ar-
thur Dimmesdale, writes: "Among the many morals
which press upon us from the poor minister's expe-
rience, we put only this into a sentence - 'Be true!
Be true! Be true!' " A psychological truth is a moral
Manifestly, then, there is a sacred quality to truth,
which is why there is a satanic quality to lies. Mel-
ville's Father Mapple sums up what God's bidding to
man is: "To preach the Truth to the face of False-
hood!"Each time I consider these thoughts, I am
inevitably drawn to Father Mapple's Sermon:
Woe to him who seeks to pour oil upon the
waters when God has brewed them into a gale!
Woe to him who seeks to please rather than to
appal! Woe to him who, in this world, courts
not dishonor! Woe to him who would not be
true, even though to be false were salvation!
A strong injunction? A hard morality? Yes. It takes
a big man to live up to the truth. Listen to Father
Mapple again: "And if we obey C-od, we must diso-
bey ourselves, and it is in this disobeying ourselves,
wherein the hardness of obeying God consists."
Accretive selfishness is simple, altruistic love is hard.
Obeying God's bidding lto live always according to
the truth! is not only hard, it is dangerous. The world
expects men to lie, to equivocate, to temporize. It
doesn't want people to be truthful. That's why Soc-
rates was executed and Christ crucified.
Well, if such happened to them, then how can we
expect better treatment? We can't. Don't expect it,
because we probably won't receive it. Truth may be
always best, but it's almost never smoothest. Though
living a true life may make a man free, it guarantees
no freedom from pain or sorrow. Quite the contra-
ry. That's why we find it so much easier to lie, both
to ourselves and to others. It has always been easier
to slide down the greasy chute to hell than to climb
the steep and thorny path to heaven. But isn't a man
really happier being a Christ than a Pilate?
Look, then, Seniors, at this book in your hands,
the history of your stay in this school. See the truth
and falsehood here, consider them both and make
up your mind which course you wish to follow.
judge for yourselves. Evaluate your experiences. Ar-
ticulate your criteria. Though the truth can be ap-
palling, it won't frighten a well individuated man.
Twenty years from now, reread these pages and pro-
fess your credo. What have you to lose? The same
thing you have to save - your soul.
- F. X. Slevin”