Truth, the Greatest Quality
In John Borman’s haunting film “Excalibur,” King Arthur asked the Round Table Knights:
“Which is the greatest quality of knighthood? Courage? Compassion? Loyalty? Humility? What do you say, Merlin?”
At first Merlin hedges, “Hmm? Ah. Ah. Ah, the greatest. Uh, well, they blend, like the metals we mix to make a good sword.”
Arthur : “No poetry. Just a straight answer. Which is it?”
“All right, then. Truth. That's it. Yes. It must be truth above all. When a man lies, he murders some part of the world. You should know that.”
This answer is incredibly important, especially today when it is assaulted by lies from all directions, even from the highest places.
Truth is the greatest quality of knighthood. Searching for truth is the essence of our personal quests. That means speaking truth at all times. Advocating for it. Treating others honesty. Carefully weighing justice and mercy. Condemning bigotry. Refusing to partake in gossip or conspiracy theories.
Truth is the greatest trait of noble bearing. Without it, a person’s character is merely a façade.
But truth can be evasive. It demands from us to discard false beliefs and quest for what is true for the rest of our lives.
Without truth, what are we as Knights? What are we as people? How can justice ever be administered?
Merlin says that whenever we lie we murder some part of the world. We do. We are murdering our experience of reality itself.
He ends with the most telling words of all: “You should know that.”
We do know that. That’s what conscience is all about. Shutting off conscience murders a vital part of who we are. We murder not only part of the world we live in, but ourselves.
Reclaiming conscience is the quest’s vital first step. Sharpening and applying reason is the step that naturally follows. From that point, life consists of refinement of noble virtues in relationship to others.