Richard Uzelac: The Power of Truth

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In a world filled with misinformation, spin, and outright lies, the importance of honesty and truth-telling cannot be overstated. Jordan Peterson’s “rule 8” from his book, “12 Rules for Life” – “Tell the truth or at least don’t lie” – is a profound reminder that truth and falsehood have real consequences, both for individuals and for society as a whole.

Peterson argues that telling the truth, even when uncomfortable, provides the foundation for personal growth, strong relationships, and a well-functioning society. Conversely, lies and deception corrode trust, stunt moral development, and sow chaos. While perfect, unfiltered truth-telling is unrealistic, Peterson advocates always striving for honesty over falsehood.

Honesty's Impact: Personal & Relational

On an individual level, truth-telling fosters self-awareness and personal responsibility. Lies provide only momentary relief from harsh realities; they prevent people from confronting weaknesses and enacting meaningful change. Honest self-reflection, on the other hand, illuminates paths for growth. Even painful truths, once accepted, can be the catalyst for overcoming struggles and bad habits.

Truth-telling also develops character and resilience. Hiding from the truth encourages victimhood; honesty demands accountability. Blaming failures on external factors rather than admitting one’s own shortcomings leads nowhere. As Peterson states, “You must determine where you are before you can determine where you are going.” Truth provides an accurate map.

In relationships, honesty builds trust and strengthens bonds. Deception poisons relationships to their core. No intimate connection can thrive when shrouded in lies. Partners who are radically honest with each other find a deep sense of security. Honesty also indicates respect; social lies meant to flatter or appease suggest duplicity. Truth, however uncomfortable, at least honors the listener.

At the societal level, truth and honesty undergird cooperation, law, and justice. Communities where truth-telling is the norm can build complex systems of trade, government, and defense; falsehood throws sand in the gears. Courts depend on honest witnesses and testimony. Politics requires good faith debate. Even simple contracts rely on basic honesty. Deception makes all of this unravel.

Lies also rob societies of collective wisdom and shared reality. Without a foundation of truth, constructive action becomes impossible. No long-term progress can be made unless built on truth’s bedrock. Societies that value honesty have a clear vision; those plagued by lies stumble blindly.

While total, blunt truth-telling in all circumstances is likely unachievable and perhaps unwise, all deception comes at a high cost. Lies from leaders degrade society and shake public trust. But everyday falsehoods are similarly corrosive. Minor lies on a résumé, fudging numbers at work, cheating in small ways – these add up, eroding both character and community.

Embracing Radical Honesty and Living Authentically

Honesty requires courage, as the truth often threatens our egos or ambitions. But the personal tranquility and self-respect that stem from truthfulness are of far greater value. As Peterson notes, “You can use your own understanding of the truth to forge yourself into a better person… That makes everything easier.” The alternative – a life choked by lies large and small – creates unease and angst.

None of this suggests truth is always objective or easy to discern. Human limitations make total accuracy an impossibility. But one need not perceive truth perfectly in order to value honesty; an earnest quest for truth matters more than perfection. Saying “I don’t know” when appropriate reflects honesty. By contrast, feigning certainty when ignorant breeds folly.

Nor does Peterson suggest honesty is our only ethic; other virtues like compassion also matter. Tact and diplomacy can soften hard truths when appropriate. But well-intentioned falsehoods still inflict damage. As the saying goes, “The truth hurts – but secrets kill.”

Life presents impossible dilemmas where principles collide. Being human means navigating such complexities imperfectly. Still, Peterson calls us to always tilt toward truth, particularly in our own souls. Even if we cannot be purely truthful outwardly, we can at least refrain from deceiving ourselves.

Jordan Peterson’s “rule 8” rings true in an era plagued by tribalism, clickbait headlines, and social media falsehoods. But in one’s own life, the principles behind “tell the truth or at least don’t lie” remain timeless. Honesty strengthens character, bolsters relationships, and enables progress. Though often inconvenient at the moment, truth-telling aligns with our deeper longings for wisdom and meaning. Lies may dazzle briefly, but truths shine brightly forever. Peterson’s rule challenges us to build lives on a foundation that will stand firm.


Truth is the bedrock of our humanity. Without truth, we lose our way in the world and within ourselves. Yet, in our distraction-filled, image-obsessed culture, truth often feels in short supply. The temptation to present carefully curated versions of ourselves – to essentially live a lie – has never been stronger. Truth is the bedrock of our humanity. Without truth, we lose our way in the world and within ourselves. Yet, in our distraction-filled, image-obsessed culture, truth often feels in short supply. The temptation to present carefully curated versions of ourselves – to essentially live a lie – has never been stronger.


The path to joy and fulfillment lies in living in alignment with one’s true self. Yet, in our image-conscious society, the temptation to present false versions of ourselves is constant.

We pretend to be happy when we’re not portraying lives of adventure on social media when our realities are far more mundane. We tell “little white lies” to protect others or ourselves. This denial of truth comes at a profound cost. The mental and physical stresses of maintaining facades take a heavy toll. Our connections with others grow superficial. We lose our way.

“By embracing radical honesty and shedding our masks, however, we can reclaim our integrity and find relief. The lesson is clear: only by courageously living in our truths can we discover lasting joy. Our souls crave authenticity. We must answer that call.”- Richard Uzelac.



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