Why Should We Tell the Truth? The Connection Between Truth, Freedom, and Morality

Lucas Charbonnier

Hatched by Lucas Charbonnier

Apr 23, 2024

4 min read


Why Should We Tell the Truth? The Connection Between Truth, Freedom, and Morality

From childhood, we are taught to tell the truth and are expected to adhere to this principle. But where does this necessity to tell the truth come from? And why is truth considered superior to lies?

The sacred commandment to tell the truth can be traced back to religious teachings. The ninth commandment in the Old Testament states, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." In religious contexts, God is associated with truth, while lies are seen as something that leads humans astray from their spiritual path. During the Renaissance, there was a lively debate about whether a society of atheists could exist. Many believed that adherence to certain rules primarily stemmed from religion and the fear of God. Consequently, it seemed difficult to imagine a society of atheists.

Beyond the religious aspect, telling the truth is also seen as an existential duty. Religious texts recommend telling the truth as a sacred duty, but it is also a personal need since each individual strives to uphold their own conscience. Moreover, society expects its members to tell the truth, making it a social obligation. The universal nature of this principle indicates that it is a moral principle as well.

Moving on to the concept of freedom, it can be examined from different perspectives. Firstly, in a physical sense, freedom denotes the absence of constraints. It refers to the freedom of movement and the spontaneity of action. However, humans are not free to defy the laws of nature. They are subject to natural determinism, which asserts that every effect has a cause and all phenomena adhere to natural laws.

From a political standpoint, freedom is associated with independence. In this context, freedom means being free from any form of power. It implies being one's own master. A free society adheres only to its own laws, while a free individual obeys their own will.

However, human beings, as social creatures, do not live in isolation. In society, freedom is contingent upon obeying laws that apply equally to everyone. Additionally, these laws should reflect the general will and transcend individual selfishness in favor of the common good. When these conditions are met, citizens willingly adhere to laws they have collectively established.

Finally, freedom can be examined from a moral perspective. In the realm of morality, freedom entails taking responsibility for one's actions and having the ability to choose between good and evil. This concept is commonly known as free will. Responsibility refers to being held accountable for something before someone else. One is only responsible for what is within their control. A free will is one that is independent of any external constraints. True freedom lies in the inner will, not the physical body.

According to the Stoics, a free will can resist torture or tyranny as long as it recognizes that freedom resides in the inner will, not the body. To maintain freedom in the face of the uncertainties of life, one must detach their will from external goods that are beyond their control. It is not about "doing what I want," but rather about wanting what is within my power.

In conclusion, the connection between truth and freedom becomes evident when we examine the underlying principles. Both truth and freedom are essential for a functioning society. Truth builds trust and facilitates mutual cooperation, while freedom allows individuals to live independently and make choices. Moreover, both truth and freedom are intertwined with morality. Telling the truth and exercising freedom responsibly are moral imperatives. To ensure the preservation of these values, here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Cultivate self-awareness: Understand your own motivations and intentions when it comes to telling the truth. Reflect on whether your actions align with your values and the principles of honesty.
  • 2. Foster a culture of integrity: Encourage open and honest communication in your personal and professional relationships. Create an environment where truth-telling is valued and respected.
  • 3. Embrace personal responsibility: Recognize that your actions have consequences and take ownership of them. Act in alignment with your moral compass and strive to make choices that uphold truth and freedom.

By embracing these principles and taking action, we can contribute to a society that values truth, freedom, and morality.

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