Long ago when a merchant received a silver coin as payment for goods or services, the coin would be dropped onto a piece of smooth stone, such as polished marble. By listening carefully, the merchant could tell by the sound whether or not the coin was real, for the correct tone or ring would give indication that the coin was genuine.
Today, a coin of any amount is worth very little. But one hundred or more years ago, a silver dollar, as well as coins of lesser amount really did have significant value. The coins were valuable to the giver and the receiver.
As time went on, people began to apply the principle of the genuine tone to honesty between people. The result is the old saying, ‘The Ring of Truth.’ As a person listened to someone make a statement, he would make an inner evaluation about honesty. This judgement was based on past experience of listening and watching a person’s behavior, but it could also be intuition. Just as a silver coin had value, so a person’s word had value to both the speaker and the listener.
Listen to people you meet. Most are genuine, truthful, and able to converse in an honest manner. But sometimes you talk with someone and what they tell you is so incredulous that their words spark questions in your mind. What they are saying ‘rings hollow’, which is the opposite of having ‘The Ring of Truth.’
I have met some of these people. I would listen carefully to what they were saying, but sometimes what they stated was just too difficult to believe and I would quietly wonder why they would spin such tales. Though I did not challenge their words openly, I had a sense that their words were untrue. What they told me just did not have the ‘Ring of Truth.’
We must have a clear mind and exercise clarity of thought to sift and sort through lies, half-truths, and exaggerations. Where does one get this ability? It comes from having good listening skills and a practiced ability to evaluate and perhaps ask follow-up questions. Essentially, we must learn to discern and it helps to have a bit of skepticism. It takes hearing a few people share about themselves and events from their lives. After you hear a few strange tales, you will easily begin to recognize others. You begin to know when their words are missing the ‘Ring of Truth.’
Now, consider this issue in a different context. You and I must carefully listen to and then evaluate what we hear from politicians and media sources. Often these truth evaluations happen instantly, but many times, we need to watch as a pattern emerges over time. As you consider what the politician or media personality is saying, you might compare their words with earlier statements. Once again, we can determine that we have not heard words that are truthful and we conclude that we did not hear, ‘The Ring of Truth.’
Do not be gullible as you listen and take in information, whether from an acquaintance, a politician, or a media outlet. Instead, watch and listen, analyze and evaluate, and come to a sound conclusion. This is wisdom.
Today, we no longer test coins as they did 100 years ago, but it is essential to cultivate your skill regarding the detection of truth. This is true whether you are talking casually with friends or attempting to evaluate the honesty of government officials and their media mouthpieces.
So then… be wise and listen carefully for ‘The Ring of Truth.’
© Jeffery J. Michaels / Plain English Publications 2021
(Quotations allowed with attribution to this blog)