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Page 9 text:
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
Page 8 text:
To The Seniors
When the Editors of this year's TELESIS asked me
to write an article addressed to the graduating Se-
niors, I was quite honestly honored at their request.
I was also struck by the fact that the request came for
exactly twenty junes after I had ascended the dais in
the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria to re-
ceive my diploma and graduate from high school.
Twenty years is a good length of time at which to
take stock and try to articulate some basic values
before we launch off on another twenty-year trip.
What follows, then, is an intensely personal reaction
to that request, a reaction that may look more like
rumination than anything else, but which is really
one teacher's credo. I want to speak about what I
consider the most important aspect of a man's life:
Truth, that without which everything else he does in
his life possesses what Conrad calls a "taint of death,
the flavour of mortality."
Lip service to the contrary notwithstanding, most
of us do not delight in the truth -it is often too
painful, and too often appalling. "Ye shall know the
truth, and the truth shall make you free," cries St.
john. However, as most of us delight not in the
truth, so most of us dislike freedom, for true free-
dom brings with it responsibility - the burden of
freedom. It is slavery that carries with it an absence
of restraint, it is willing commitment to a cause ex-
ternal to oneself that brings with it freedom. A slave
cannot sin, only a free man can. The person to
whom that fact is a contradiction rather than a para-
dox is a person whose inner life has not been suffi-
If St. john is correct in his assertion that freedom
and truth are concomitants, then humanity is correct
in its assertion that happiness is a consequent of lib-
erty. To paraphrase a famous document, truth, liber-
ty, and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable
human rights. And if rights, then duties. Or so I hold.
I take it as self-evident that the happiest man is he
who is most at peace with external reality, the man
whose mind conforms itself to life as it really is, viz.,
to truth. The unhappiest man, the most neurotic, is
he who refuses to, or who can't, accept external
reality and who wars with it. Or put it in Christian
terms: the man who can truly pray, "thy will be
done" rather than the more usual "my will be
done," achieves the peace of God, the peace that
surpasses all human understanding. Which is
one of the reasons why such people are so
often misunderstood by the mass of lip-servers.
Herman Melville had precisely that thought in mind
when he wrote, "PQI saw C.od's foot upon the
treadle of the loom, and spoke it, and therefore his
shipmates called him mad. So man's insanity is heav-
en's sense . . . " And vice-versa.
A more orthodox writer, St. Paul, put it another
way: "We must all be fools for Christ." Fools as the
world fmanl counts fools are people who are not hip
enough to swim with the current, or who are not
bright enough not to rock the boat and cause waves.
Christ was a fool, Pilate was a prudent politician who
providentially worried about what Caesar thought
rather than what his own intellect told him: "I find
no cause in this man." Even though a political realist,
Pilate unfortunately lost in the end anyway. But
that's accidental. It is his figure I find fascinating.
After all, it was the Procurator Pilate who asked that
famous question of Christ, "What is truth?" He was a
typical worldly Roman cynic, whose question reveals
the underlying belief that power is truth, rather than
the other way around. Truth is what the current
Ceasar says is truth, and only a fool would fly in the
face of that reality. Christ had no power, He was an
absurd King. I recall Stalin's famous rhetorical ques-
tion when someone asked him how he would get
around the Pope's objections to Russia's doing
something or other at the time: "How many divi-
sions does the Pope have?" barked the cynical
Another context: Socrates was actually put to
death for the nebulous crime of "corrupting the
youth" of Athens, all he actually did was to try to
Page 10 text:
Steven H. Adler
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