“Truth doesn’t always translate into policy–nor should it. There is no one to one connection between truth and policy.” I heard this today and have been chewing on it ever since. The notion is that just because something is true doesn’t necessarily require that it be adopted as policy. An example given was the fact that there no doubt that the U.S. government cheated Native American Indians out of their land and in many instances literally stole thousands of acres of prime real estate from them over 100 years ago. Many of our current great cities and towns sit on ancestral land that once belonged to Indians for generations. This is an undebatable truth. Does this mean we should therefore dismantle such cities and towns and give all the land back to the Indians? This would not be a wise policy move.
This got me thinking even more about the nature of truth and whether or not it should always be translated or converted into policy and action; or whether or not it should at times be content with being a mere principal of objective reality that is recognized. Moreover one can imagine scenarios where it could be dangerous to assume that truth should always be converted into official policy or course of action. Case in point, in 1948 newly formed Israel fought against her Arab neighbors which sought her destruction. Israel came out on the winning side and in so doing secured extensive new territory through the displacement of many former Arab inhabitants (who didn’t call themselves Palestinians until later). It is true that most Arab inhabitants fled their lands to avoid the conflict and thought they would easily return to their homes and farms once the Arab armies were victorious. But this was not to be. Israel emerged victorious and swiftly closed the door on allowing most of the land’s former Arab inhabitants the right to return.
Thus began the Palestinian refugee problem and the “right of return” that has dominated all peace negotiations since 1948. Is it true that many present day Israelis are farming the land once owned by Arab-Palestinians? Yes. Is it true that Israel has not compensated these Arab land owners for the land taken from them? Yes–after all war is war and there will alway be winners and losers and it wouldn’t be the first time land has swapped hands through conflict. Is it unjust and unfair to many Palestinians that Israelis are farming land that once belonged to them? Perhaps. But the point is, even if this were true should Israel therefore convert this truth into action and adopt as official policy the right of all Palestinians to return to Israel and reclaim their land? Absolutely not! Overnight Israel would be flooded with millions of Palestinians to the point Jews becoming the minority in their own country. It would be suicide for Israel to contemplate such a policy.
One can also think of how mercy would suffer under a truth = policy scenario. Forgiveness is often the overlooking of wrongs done to us. It acknowledges the truth that an offense has been committed but then allows mercy to spare the individual of his just judgment. Spiritually speaking we can affirm that it is true that we all deserved to be judged by God for our sins–but thankfully God did not seek to convert that truth into His redemptive policy. Rather he chose to subsume our judgment upon Himself.