The Dark and the Bright Sides of Truth

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Truth is not faceless. It subjects us to it. We become subjects of truth and are called to live fidelity to it. Truth in this sense is a lived truth and simply an objective state of affairs. Truth therefore generates truth effects that binds us differently depending on which side of the truth we choose to belong. This means truth is not fully objective but is intimately subjective. Truth therefore can intoxicate us. It gives a se se of triumph and turns us blind to all consequences of our subjection to it. This is why we need ethics to embrace what we deem as truth.

Today we need an ethical embrace of the truth. We cannot be like the six blind men who went to see the elephant. We have to embrace the truth integrally. The dark sides as well as the bright sides of the truth requires us to embrace truth in its complexity. This is why following the work of Michel Foucault, we have to look at truth as a regime. There are regimes of truth that have their sway of us. If we do not pay heed to the dark sides of truth, we will blindly repeat the same crimes we accuse the villains of our past.

We need this understanding of the regimes of truth and their strangulating hold over us in the context of Temples at the Masjid site discourse that has hit our country. Holy place like Varanasi seem to have become an epicenter of new hate politics. This discourse has given a subject position of being victims to the majority community and villains to the minority communities. This regime of truth almost threatens to repeat a violent and traumatic history that has wounded us. If we are not sensitive to the destructive power of truth effects radiating from the epicenter of the discourse, it is likely that we will find ourselves on the dark side of history that we are trying to set right. It is paradox that we seem to be repeating the same history that we are trying to set right. Hence,the challenge to ethically embrace the truth is the urgent and primary need of the hour.

Ethics of embracing truth is inevitable at a time of post-truth. Truth is often manufactured to serve an interest. Hence we need critical thinking that will enable us discern how a manufactured truth is masking as real truth. To do this we will have to discern how truth that subjects us also enslaves us . The ethical embrace of the truth can lead us to forgive the dark sides of truth and take the bright sides of truth to generate peace, harmony and goodness to all. Forgiveness, therefore, dignifies both the givers as well as the receivers of forgiveness.

We are wounded people. No matter which side of our past we stand today, we still carry the wounds of our past. Therefore, we need an ethical embrace of the truth lest we wound each other again. This ethical embrace of the truth has to put the primacy of life and dignity of every Indian in its moral calculus as well as view what we subject ourself to as our truth from perspective of a harmonious future. We cannot darken our future by repeating the very same mistakes of the past we wish to put right. It is said that history is repeated by those who do not learn from history. Hence, we need a dialogue that heals and not a dialectic that wounds. The dialect that wounds is loss recovery dynamism. It sees it’s triumph in heartless recovery of what is felt as lost in the past. While we try to restore a lost past we cannot lose our future by inflicting the very same kind of wounds. India today needs therapeutic dialogue more than ever before.

After any terrible suffering, forgiveness is never easy. It requires courage to forgive. Real forgiveness involves forgiving the unforgivable. It requires us to move from the fidelity to the event that inflicted the wound to fidelity to the event of healing. We need this fidelity to the event of healing in order to set ourselves free from the spiral of violence. This does not mean that we simply bury our dark past. It means we view our dark past through the lens of distance which will enable us to resolve to choose the good of all Indians collectively and not merely of a single community. Thus without denying the dark side of our wounded past, we critically embrace the truth effects of the regimes of truth that are holding us captive and let compassion or karuna lead us to embrace every other Indian who may simply become an innocent victim of the wheels of the spiral of violence unleashed in the name of truth.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao