The Universality of Salty Truth
By Jane Tawel
February 13, 2020
Truth tends to be one of those elements that we like to help ourselves to, but don’t particularly like others pouring onto us. Truth, like salt, often seems to be a matter of taste, but a great chef will know otherwise. Pouring a lot of salt onto a dish that someone has made for you, means first of all, you don’t want to bite into it, don’t want to “listen” to the food provided. There are many people who salt first and think later. But there are also many of us who are afraid of using too much salt, and so we serve up “meals” that are nice, but tasteless; lives that are “okay”, but not what our lives could be with a little salty truth.
A lot of our taste buds, in this country, have been thrown off-whack by an overuse of salt in fast food diets and sodium-enhanced snacks. Truth as well-salted nourishment has been mistaken for the fast-food meals of Fox news and sports games and binging on Netflix and hook-ups. And like anything that is not ever going to be a complete meal, we feel full only for a time.
Making a real meal takes time and love and openness to suggestions and salt. Making a real life takes time and love and openness to others and truth.
Many of us in this neck of the First Worlds have lost the use of our truth-sensing taste buds. This has caused a host of problems. For one thing, it has caused us to think that our overly salty “diet” or nation or religion or community is better than someone else’s. We think it’s okay to pour our salty truth all over the meals or hungers of other people groups, but woe to those nations or religions or communities or lone voices that try to add some salty truth to what we are gorging ourselves on. The problem is, that salt is a universal need, and truth is the same. A good cook will confirm that for any meal to be the best it can be, there has to be the right amount of salt. We tend to think of truth as a matter of taste, but it isn’t. True Truth is the necessary additive to life for the preservation of everything from a friendship to our entire human species. And, as we are finding with no small amount of fear, Truth-telling and Truth-accepting are of dire importance to the preservation of our very planet. Without salt, food rots. Without truth, relationships rot.
Truth is also, however, not just for survival. Truth, like salt, is a necessary ingredient for the enjoyment and nourishment of our souls. Like a good meal, truth — Real Truth — if it is to last for more than it takes to imbibe an infomercial, must stand the tests of times, cultures, religions, nations, nature, and humanity’s basic needs. Truth must be nourishing for more than one age, or one community, or one thing, or one person, or one belief system.
I like to get my truth through things people have written and by observation of the world around me. I also like a lot of salt on my eggs, but no salt on my watermelon, but I will support with my last bite, your right to choose to salt your watermelon and put turmeric in your eggs There may be people in various parts of the world that get their truth in some way that other people may not find attractive or delicious or even edible. But just because I like my potatoes mashed and you like yours fried and that person on the other side of the table, likes to drink his potatoes in a vodka and tonic, does not mean that potatoes are not always potatoes. You may say po-tay-to and I may say po-tah-to but rather than “calling the whole thing off”, we need to keep tasting from other sides of the world’s big smorgasbord. We need to add salty truth, not walk away from the feast of knowledge, wisdom, and truth that is ultimately not a matter of my taste, but of a holistic universality that may always feel a bit out of reach but is always necessary. We don’t grab the salt from across the table as if we have a market on it. In the same we, we do not have a market on Truth. We need to stop keeping the salt at our end of table and pass it around. And if there is no salt on someone else’s table, we need to share ours. The same holds for truth, but just like salt, truth can go stale and be worthless if it is not used. As a very wise rabbi and guru once said, “if salt loses its saltiness, it is fit for nothing but the garbage pile”. (Jesus as quoted in Matthew 5:13)
Truth must be salty, but not too salty, adding to the flavor, not overwhelming it. Truth must be palatable. That is why it is found everywhere. I may go to a restaurant and find that they do not have Tabasco or soy sauce or gluten-free ketchup, but I have never been any where that does not have packets or shakers of salt. Just like truly salty salt, truly truthful truth is ubiquitous. Truth, like salt is that universal ingredient that is necessary for completeness, for wholeness, and it is a critical element for every human being. It is one of the things we need that separates us from the beasts, and I may call it Truth, and you may call it verité and she may call it pravda and he may call it ukweli, but no matter what we call it or where we find it, no matter when someone lived or where someone lives, or who someone is — Truth is truth. Everything else is, as the Ecclesiast said, “for a season”. Salty truth is the one ingredient that is the perfect season-ing, no matter the season we are passing through.
If I think of my life as one long banquet meal, a meal to be enjoyed by myself but also to provide nourishment to others, then speaking salty truth, living salty truth, and accepting my need for salty truth, are fundamentally critical additions to the banquet meal of my life, that is if I want the “whole enchilada”. I have to salt away truth in my mind and heart in order to live into the full banquet of who I can be, to enjoy all the tastes this life has to offer and if I want to preserve something that will last.
True Truth has no religious, national, or human boundaries. Truth is considered universally necessary for the preservation of the soul and for any one journeying in a truly spiritual way. The primary teaching of Buddha is called “Four Noble Truths”. The 14th Dalai Lama prayed this: “Together with the force of great compassion in the Three Jewels and their Words of Truth, And through the power of the infallible law of actions and their fruits, May this truthful prayer be unhindered and quickly fulfilled”. Hindus are taught that they must “pursue knowledge and understanding of the Truth: the very essence of the universe and the only Reality. According to the Vedas, Truth is One, but the wise express it in a variety of ways” (https://www.dummies.com/religion/hinduism/core-beliefs-of-hindus/). And this is a quote about truth from the Islamic worldview:
In the Torah of the Hebrews, God gives His people this instruction: “with all your offerings you shall offer salt” (Leviticus 2:13). Think of it. Offerings to the gods, to The God, can be many, many things, but they must always include salt. An offering without a pinch of truth is worthless to any thing we want to think of us as “bigger” than ourselves. Offerings, like prayers, like charity, like good deeds, like beliefs are of no earthly use to a God who rejects anything that doesn’t include Truth. In Jesus’ great discourse to those who would follow his God as Jesus himself was determined to follow Him, and in stinging words of truth to all who would desire to one day call themselves “Christ-followers”, Jesus says this: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” (Matthew 5:13). Salty truth, indeed. Jesus would eventually give his entire life to be the meal that might lead others to the great Truth of who God is and what God wants for this entire world and how we should treat each other and live within our selves. I want the repast that those like Jesus offer, but I can’t eat at the banquet feast Jesus offered without being full of salt myself.
Salt is quite plentiful in my own part of the world, even while truth seems to be in short supply. Perhaps it is time that we take to heart one of the other attributes of both salt and truth. Both salt and truth can be used as healing agents. Salt combined with water helps to clean and promote healing by a process called osmosis. The salt added to water by virtue of its chemical make-up forces the liquid in cells to move out of the body when it comes in contact with them. If those liquids are bacterial, they’ll be forced out too (www.stuff.co.nz/life-style). Putting salt on a wound has got to hurt like the dickens, but healing doesn’t come without the pain of changing the very constitution of what ails us.
We can not force-out the “bad stuff” by salt that has lost its saltiness. Without that vital chemical reaction, the bacteria will remain in our body and spread its disease further and further. Unless our illness born of lies, is treated with salty truth, just like bad bacteria, it eventually will kill us.
We can not change the bad stuff in our nation, our religion, or our family by truth that has lost its sting. We certainly can not change everything that has gone wrong in our body politic or in what some call the “Body of Christ” into nourishment, by continuing to add false preservatives or fake salt products. Things that are not preserving, universally accepted truth are rightly called Lies, not Truth. In the same way we dress our dinners with salty salt, we must ad-dress our lives, and our fellow diners, with salty truth.
We need to be humbly aware, that some of those sitting at the world’s table, in fact, some who might like to sit at the dinner tables of our homes, and churches and temples, and communities, don’t have enough “food”, to need salt yet. They need a good hot meal, first. If truth is like salt, then love is like honey — both are healing agents. We need to share love with others, before we can sprinkle it with truth. But we can not keep enjoying the plenty of our spiritual lives, if we have lost our saltiness. Our souls will rot from within, if we do not season our hearts with truth.
In truth, as in love, there can be joy, because both are good for healing what ails us. We must open up the doors to the great Banquet of Love, and pass around the salt. Our joyful nourishment of ourselves and others depends on it. In fact, our very preservation, depends on our loving use of the salt of Truth.
Got Salt? I’ll try to be ready with a heart prepared in the cook-fires of love. Pour it on. Rub it in. Season my life with Truth.