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Small handwriting sample of C.J.'s First-Year Student Journals, link to journals home page


trophies and medals

6 March 2006

“Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”

This maxim has been engraved on the university’s greatest structures for more than half a century. Yes, the 27-story, 270-foot UT Tower Main building has been home to this inscription since 1935. All throughout these years, it has become a permanent fixture in the minds of all Longhorns, young and old. Even though usually used in religious contexts, this statement initially came under my observation for a trivial concern, but eventually transitioned into an axiom with more implications than just a sole religious one. And over time, it has become a permanent fixture in the mind of this Longhorn as well!

Now I have been around this campus, the UT Tower building and this inscription for quite some time. Accordingly, my maturing process in deciphering and understanding this statement has allowed me to gradually move beyond the trivial questions and delve deep into the real topic. Of course, I have always wondered whether I actually comprehend this statement or not. The real difference now is that I don’t wonder and scrutinize the phrase for starting with “Ye” (instead of “You”) but scrutinize other individual words instead. And the word under my recent examination is none other than: truth.

Truth! Truth! Truth!

Now let’s face it, all of us are here on this tiny planet in search of some sort of truth. Yes, you, I and all other people around us have our very own truths and we all are constantly striving to find them. As of my knowledge so far, truths come in as many forms as M&M’s: arithmetical, logical, ethical, relative, absolute, etc. The list is lengthened even more when truths defined by people (or personalized truths!) are added. The truth that ketchup makes everything taste better (except ketchup itself), the truth that one must never attempt to catch a falling cactus, the truth that wherever you go…there you are, and the truth that one swears to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Like all others, I am in search of my truth as well. And as of now the only way I have been able to describe truth is by the definition that truth is the absence of ignorance. In other words, I define truth as the platform upon which knowledge is based. Therefore, it is valid for me to argue that my pursuit of knowledge and education is equivalent to my pursuit of truth. That being said, I have to declare that I have obviously been gaining a lot of education here at the university. Accordingly, I am being exposed to a whole lot of truths constantly on a day-to-day basis. For example, learning the fact that every problem contains its own solution, learning that failure is an essential tool to success, learning that grades do not mean everything, learning that things have more than a single perspective and learning that truth is infinite and understanding is not.

All of the truths I have just listed above have been dawning on me ever since I gained consciousness. The cool thing is that I am beginning to explore and re-explore them with the continuous education I am gaining. Even more interesting is the fact that most of these truths are pretty bitter at face value. Of course, it does not help when you learn that each problem itself holds a key to its solution, it really hurts when you learn that success has to be achieved through failures, and it is extremely nerve-wracking to know that your understanding is limited while so many other things are not. In other simpler words, truth hurts! I mean, I still sometimes get depressed to think about the truth that I single-handedly cannot save the world (although I still question the validity of this truth because I am left-handed, ambidextrous in quite a few things and a big exception).

Yes, so it does hurt but not if looked at it from a wider perspective. And that is what I have been trying to do recently: looking at the bigger picture and accepting truths (even if they hurt). Sure, I might not be able to understand everything and may not be able to save the world single-handedly. But, there is always the possibility that I might understand a few things and may be able to save the world with the help of a few others. And voilà: these same truths are not that bitter any longer. More important, there are a few truths that are good and taste great. For example, the truth that my spring break officially starts as soon as I finish this journal, which means that I am about to be free! And wasn’t this journal about the truth that shall make one free?

Got truth?

Let Zaid know at

P.S.: OK, so here is the deal. It took me about three days of sheer thinking and many more hours of refined writing efforts to tackle this concept called truth. I’ll be very glad if you were to tell me that you did not understand this (because, at first, neither did I). Try to read all this one more time as “ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free….”

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