“I only speak the truth. I only speak the truth. I only speak the truth.” ~ Moulin Rouge
Or, as defined by my dictionary
Truth (n): the quality of being true, genuine, or factual
I don’t only speak the truth. Does anyone? What on earth would the world be like if we all did?! It would either be some very extreme version of ‘If you haven’t anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all’ with no-one speaking or we’d all probably be feeling insulted by each other and falling out like the Vesuvius of all domestic rows.
Truth is subjective. The American Declaration of Independence includes the words “We hold these truths to be self evident.” Well yes, nice idea, but it doesn’t always work in practise. If you are a witness at court you swear or affirm to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” I like that. Is supposed to mean no lies by omission and that you tell all you know on something. But just because it is truth, that doesn’t mean it’s fact. Just because I believe something to be true doesn’t mean that it is. Yet it is still true to me. Equally, someone else could believe the exact opposite. It would be as true to them as it is to me. And, on top of all that, when it came to fact, we could both be wrong.
For example, I know someone who thought they were about to get a gun pulled on them. He got out of the situation unscathed, thankfully. When the guy was nicked an hour or so later he was found in possession of a sunglasses case. My mate says gun. He says sunglasses case. Both believe what they are saying true. Subsequent search of a house reveals a gun. What was the guy carrying then? As fact it will never be proved.
Personally, I have an interesting relationship with the truth. I am mostly honest and mostly open. However if I don’t want someone to know something I will split the truth on the finest of hairs. My personal area of obfuscation is generally my finances. I am a feckless spendthrift who is, unsurprisingly, in debt. My inability at times to manage my finances embarrasses me, hence I keep it well hidden. This has been on the forefront of the mind recently due to the fact I have been talking money with a good friend. The temptation to fudge it was strong but ultimately, what would be the point? This friend was offering to help. The least I could do was honour their kindness by being truthful.
Of course, sometimes not being truthful is good and done for justifiable reasons. Father Christmas, anyone? The Tooth Fairy? Children get lied to a lot. It’s to amuse them and to protect them. I’m not saying it’s always right to do but it is understandable. Sadly, children get lied to over other adult stuff. “Yes, I was injured at work/I fell over” as opposed to the truth “Your father/mother hit me”. Understandable to lie but a horrible atmosphere to be in. And lying begets more lying. I’m friends with people who grew up in such atmospheres and they are truly damaged by it. They don’t mean to lie but their notion of telling the truth is tainted by what they learnt at a very young age. Knowing this, let’s just say with some of my friends, I don’t believe what they say about some situations until it is verified by a third party.
I don’t know what the answer is in those and many other situations. I do believe, and have for years, that honesty is the best policy. After the last 6 months I believe it more than ever. Yet I’m hypocritical enough to lie or deceive myself when it suits me. And I doubt that will ever change.
So what about you guys? Truth-sayers, deceivers, obfuscators? Answer, truthful or otherwise, in a comment box-shaped postcard, please.