True, But not Obvious Truth or Consequences By Ronald W. Shea

True, But not Obvious
Truth or Consequences
Ronald W. Shea
“Hello there, we’ve been waiting for you to play Truth
or Consequences,” spoke the announcer for the show
Truth or Consequences. For nearly one third of my life
I heard this line. Not only did I hear it once a week
while my whole family watched the show together, but my
parents would use the title as a “gentle” reminder of
moral application. “If you don’t tell the truth you’ll
have to pay the consequences,” my mother would tell me.
Not only, prior to the mid seventies was this a popular
slogan, but I was also raised in a Roman Catholic
family. Truth was placed next to Jesus Christ. “I am
the Truth and the Light,” said Jesus. And I was
reminded of this everyday. I attend Parochial school
until I was ten years old – fifth grade. When I did not
attend the school directly, I had to attend “Sunday
School.” This was used by the Nuns and Priest to
reinforce the Roman Catholic values and doctrines upon
the innocent minds of the little children. It has been
ingrained in me so well that I can recite doctrine and
speak portions of the Roman Catholic Mass in Latin
forth years later.
Truth has had an evolution in my fifty-three years of
life. As a young child, I was taught to tell the truth,
because lying was a sin and the halfway-house to
heaven, known as Purgatory was full of liars. My
innocence had been exposed to the values of truth, but
I had to take it on faith that truth really existed.
Truth was almost synonymous with fear. Even if I was
telling the truth the stern looks from the adults in my
life continued to cast a doubt on my youthful
integrity. The truth was the lamp fell off of the
table. “I did not touch the lamp,” was my truthful
response to my parent’s question. What they should have
asked me was whether I had touched the table upon which
the lamp was sitting. They did not. Therefore I was
actually telling them the truth. At a very early age,
below 10 years old, and with six additional siblings it
was very important for me to acquire the ability to
response literally to direct questions for two reasons.
One, I did not want to take the blame for something my
sisters or brothers actually did. Second, I did not
want to get them into trouble and then have to suffer
their wrath when mom and dad were away. The television
show’s title was a reality for me as a young kid –
Truth or Consequences.
As a young adolescent, truth evolved into shades of
color varying from white to shades of gray. When it
came to family a white lie could be any where between
appropriate to a necessity. When it came to responding
to any of my four sister’s appearance questions, I was
to my benefit to give them the appropriate answer.
However, when it came to concealing the identity of my
father’s gift for my mother, the white lie became a
necessity. Truth itself was gaseous like steam. I knew
what it was. I could see it, but it did not seem
concrete. Once again, the show’s title had more meaning
than just a television program. It was life – Truth or
As a young man, truth became discovery. I thought
twelve years of education combined with two years of
college would have prepared me for the real world. I
was married at twenty-one and ready to achieve the
“American Dream.” Truth became a primary factor or
prediction. If what I was being told was true, then I
could expect some certain outcome. The new-used car I
bought for twenty-five dollars would not require any
repairs, based on the condition the seller told me the
car was in – not! The first house I bought would not
require any maintenance as the previous home owner told
me they had taken very good care of the home – not!
And, my wife and I could work, establish ourselves and
enjoy our togetherness, without children until we were
thirty, because my wife was not ready to have children
– not! It was then said by a common verse, “The only
thing that is true in life is taxes and death.” I then
postulated at this early age, everything else was
caveat emptor. Truth was like water flowing through my
fingers. I was something I could not always put my hand
around. The predictability I had expected from societal
interaction was to say the least, not reliable. Of
course, Murphy would also raise his head and tack on not reliable at the most inopportune time – Truth or
Major Consequences.
The innocence I had as a young child had
repeated itself, in a different form as a young adult.
The commonality of the two ages was faith in people and
trust in truth. The truth about trust being earned had
its’ proof by experience. Throughout my thirties,
forties and fifties, truth has solidified like ice. It
was something I could find for myself. I could locate
it, discover it, sense it and be blinded by it, but it
was based on solidity. I could, by my own efforts
increase predictability. The opportunities for me to
experience unexpected results in my life are lessened
now, because of what I know about truth. I have found
the consequences as a result of being exposed to nontruthfulness are not as major as I can quickly change
direction or actions to mitigate the damages and turn
to a more positive tack. What I have learned about
truth is it is personal. What I believe to be true may
have some commonalty upon which others have agreed to
also believe to be true, but not all things I believe
to be true are shared with the same unanimity, with the
biggest example being religion. What I have also
learned about truth is that I do not know all of the
things that can be true. Therefore, new information can
bring to light in me a new truth. The new truth can be
about something I already believed was true or
something I was unaware of but as a result of exposure
to it now know it as being true. The difficulty with
those new truths is the true consequences which may
have resulted from my ignorance of the truth prior to
the application of action or which will result due to
lack of applied action – Truth or Consequences.