Gandhi on Truth and Public Service

Lately I have been reading Gandhi’s Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth. There have been a few passages that I’ve skimmed over (like when he rattles off a string of names I don’t recognize, or when he dwells at length on his dietary habits), but there are also some great quotes like this one:

I now realize that a public worker should not make statements of which he has not made sure. Above all, a votary of truth must exercise the greatest caution. To allow a man to believe a thing which one has not fully verified is to compromise truth (264-5).

Especially during election season, when lies can seem about as plentiful as oxygen, I wonder how much difference it would make if we cared more about telling the truth than we cared about winning, getting our way or spinning things to our advantage.

In the last couple of years, I have heard more and more people encouraging one another to invest in gold because they don’t trust the economy and “gold has never been worth nothing.” Now I don’t want to give anyone financial advice; my brother is the one who got the financial smarts in our family. However, I will say that we would all be better off if more people, whether they are in public service or not, cared more about truth and wisdom than about trying to manipulate information or circumstances for our own advantage. After all, truth and wisdom are worth even more than gold:

Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction and understanding. (Pr 23:23)

How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver. (Pr 16:16)

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