By Engr. Carlos Cornejo
We use to believe in Santa Claus when we were kids. Why don’t we continue believing in him? Doesn’t he make us good and happy? Well, because he is not true. We can only be happy if something is true. And we should not be afraid of anything if it’s not true such as zombies or monsters hiding under our bed. One of pop psychology’s so-called techniques in boosting our mood is to act as if we are happy and they claim happy feelings would just follow. Feelings follow after acting. Unfortunately, this method hardly works because it is pretending a state of being that you are not. If you are not truly happy then it is hard to smile. It’s like cheering for a basketball team that is down by 20 points and it’s the final minute of the last quarter. No amount of cheering can make your team win. It would be like flagging a dead horse.
Other instances when truth is a requirement for happiness is when we have to make good choices. If we could not make good choices then we can’t be happy. When you don’t have the complete information of a certain product for example you could get injured using that product. If you don’t know the university rules of pre-requisite subjects, you could end up enrolling in a subject not knowing you are not yet qualified to take it. With traffic rules, lack of knowledge of them could mean getting caught with a traffic violation or worse meet an accident. In marriage, if you don’t know what true love is which is to seek the good of the beloved you could end up with a broken marriage. Many would think love is a feeling. But true love is not based on feelings alone but on a commitment or a promise or a firm choice to be faithful to your partner “in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad (till death do us part)”.
Truth also helps us reach our goal or destination. When you are new in a place, you are not free to go around because you don’t know the directions. And that diminishes your happiness. If you are in Manila which is 10 times larger than Cebu you can’t enjoy being there if you don’t know how to get to the places you want to go. In this case your freedom is hindered because of lack of knowledge. Freedom is also essential to happiness. If our love is something forced or not free, that’s not real love. Can you imagine a wife forced to love a husband? Love and freedom go together. “If you really love someone you should set her free”, the famous saying goes. That’s what God did in creating us, He gave us freedom, even though He knew we could choose to turn our back on Him. God took the gamble because you simply could not love if you’re not free. God could not love a robot and robots can’t love God.
If we know the truth of why we are here on earth, we will know the directions in life and we will reach our ultimate goal and happiness. And so, we ask “What is the purpose of man?” The old Catechism of the Catholic Church answers, “The purpose of man is to know, love and serve God in this world and to be happy with Him in the next.” Our beginning and end is in God, so it simply follows that our true and ultimate joy is in Him. The direction in life is through Christ. That’s why Christ said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6) And to follow the way we need to know His teachings or knowing the truth about God and the truth about man (the two most important truths). There is a traditional story that claims St. Augustine was able to converse with God. God told St. Augustine, “You have many questions, you may start asking me now.” St. Augustine replied, “I only have two questions.” God said, “Only two?” “Yes.” “Fine. What are these?” St. Augustine replied, “Tell me who I am (my purpose in life) and tell me who You are (the goal of my purpose).” These are the two most important questions in life. The rest are secondary.