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“You can’t handle the truth!”
These words were spoken in “A Few Good Men,” a 1992 taut legal thriller about the prosecution of two Marines who accidentally killed another Marine during a terrifying “disciplinary” exercise. Their defense attorney, played by Tom Cruise, sought to understand what exactly took place during the incident, and why it took place.
Defense - Actions - Marines - Exercise - Marine
His defense was that—though they did perform the actions in question—the Marines were ordered to carry out this heinous exercise by their Marine commander, played by Jack Nicholson.
In a loud and heated exchange, the defense attorney yells at the Marine commander at the top of his lungs: “I want the truth!”
Marine - Commander - Screams - Truth
The Marine commander screams back, “You can’t handle the truth!”
Don’t worry—I’m not going to give away the ending. This isn’t a spoiler, and it’s not a movie review. I’ll leave that job to others.
Scene - Exchange - Heart - Truth - Truths
I relate the scene because this particular verbal exchange goes to the heart of truth itself. There are the truths we don’t want, and there are the truths we can’t handle. Through the window of conscience, we can view truths such as the morality of actions, the state of our souls, and our relationship with God. But if that window is smudged or broken, it affects how we see these truths, or fail to see them.
Truth is classically defined as “the mind’s conformity to reality.” Simple, right? Except that it’s not simple at all. There can be obstacles—both intentional and accidental—to the mind’s conformity to reality.
Catholics - Obstacles - Forms - Level - Conscience
For Catholics, these obstacles to truth come in different forms; on the level of conscience and our response to it, two big obstacles to truth are laxity and scrupulosity. In its most basic forms: laxity is the belief that nothing is a sin, or that sin has no practical consequence; scrupulosity...
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