In the 1992 film “A Few Good Men” Tom Cruise’s character delivers the line “You can’t handle the truth!” to Jack Nicolson’s character who was sitting in the dock, justifying his horrific actions in the interest of national security.
Self justification is not just something reserved for hollywood blockbusters. No, we all do it all the time. We do it so often that we often don’t even realise we’re doing it. Now it may not be our breaking of the law or something as serious as national security but self justification is seriously affecting our lives. Take for instance when we’re watching TV, we actively choose to suspend what we know to be true because we want to believe what we’re seeing.
Not convinced? Why does it only take a single bullet to take down the bad guy but the hero just wipes off the blood and stick a band-aid on it? When do film heroes do their washing, cleaning, dusting, ironing, cooking, shopping, school runs, family errands, bill payments and filing? Why doesn’t the hero ever get an STI after having numerous partners?
The fact is we choose to believe what we want to believe and it isn’t based on evidence or facts. Of course we know that what we’re seeing isn’t real, don’t we? Perhaps we do deep down but so long as we suspend our disbelief we can carry on enjoying what we’ve seen. As soon as we pop out the bonus DVD and watch the ‘making of the film’ the illusion is shattered.
We don’t just apply this kind of thinking to television. We do it every day. When we drive over the speed limit and tell ourselves, “Everyone else does it” or “The limit should be higher anyway”. Or when we fail to hand in the lost property we find and say, “The person may not even return to collect it” or “The person I hand it to will keep it for themselves.” The other day I found a SatNav just lying on the floor. My first thought was, “What a great find! My wife would really appreciate this.” I wasn’t even going to keep it for myself – how generous was I! As I began to look through all the settings I came across the owners address. I thought about how they might feel having lost it and how they might feel to have it returned to them. Within the hour I was at their door.
You see, it’s the little things that we say to ourselves that really matter. They make up what we believe and who we are. In the Bible it says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so he is”. The problem with examining our beliefs is what might happen if we find that they are not true. And the problem with the truth is that it has consequences. Most people don’t want to consider the truth not because they don’t believe it, but they do not want to be faced with the consequences. Consequences require a response to accept them or reject them. They cannot be simply ignore.
The fact is that there are real consequences for all of our decisions and it is worth questioning what we believe before moving on. After all, the “theory of evolution” is still just a theory. The “missing link” is still missing. How many of us have even read the “Origin of Species” and looked at the evidence ourselves? Are we just happy to follow the masses and believe what we are presented with is the truth? Why not take the time to find out some facts for yourself and read some of the Bible; see who Jesus really was and what he had to say. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Start today with John chapter 1…