To the Word

Reflections on the call to live by the Word of God

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Location: Mud Creek, Tennessee, United States

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Valedictory address

Delivered by Levi Stanley, Valedictorian, Class of 2014 
Coffee County Central High School, Manchester, Tennessee
May 23, 2014

Truth is not a particularly popular concept in our culture today, wherever we turn.

In the political arena politicians, pundits, and lobbyists focus only on what helps them gain and hold power rather than what is true and good for the country. Advertisers cry for our attention from every direction, but only proclaim that side of things that encourages us to buy their products.

As a people we are so awash in a torrent information that we are mentally and morally numbed to the messages that bombard us. At a day-to-day level Americans just don't seem to have much time for truth as we stare at screens—sending texts, watching videos, playing games. How often do we take time to really consider what is true?

Today that question itself sounds vaguely old-fashioned and irrelevant. Yet knowing what is true is vital for living a full life, both as individuals and as a people. In truth we discover our world and how we fit into that world. As painful as it may sometimes be to face, truth is power and freedom for life.

As many of us go off to college we will face yet another assault on truth—the academic dogma that all truth is relative and tentative and subjective; that each of us has his own truth; and that your truth is no better than mine. Most of us will encounter professors who have spent decades tearing down what students believe to be true and attempting to indoctrinate us into believing either that nothing is really true, or—worse—that their own warped picture of reality is the way things truly are.

To an extent, having our conceptions of truth challenged is not all bad. None of us has everything figured out, and much of what we think we know undoubtedly could be refined to more accurately reflect the truth. As wonderful as the human mind is, much of reality is far beyond our ability to grasp intellectually. And not all truth can ever, in this life, be known with the certainty of mathematical formulae.

And yet I urge you never to give up, never despair in searching for what is really true.

In the old parable of the blind men and the elephant, each blind man touches a different part of the elephant and comes away with a different impression of what an elephant is really like: one feels only the tail and concludes an elephant is like a rope; another a leg and concludes the elephant is like a tree, and so on. But in truth an elephant is none of those. It is an elephant, much more full and complex than any of those subjective experiences can convey.

And so it is with truth. Truth exists whether we choose to see it or not. Truth is a treasure, a pearl of great price, worthy of seeking and finding.

I believe that, ultimately, Truth is not so much facts, as a person. Yes, a person. And if you do not see the truth in that statement about Truth, I urge you to continue seeking until you find.