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The truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth  By Jim Killebrew

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[February 26, 2014]  We talk about morality and character in our country and expect it to be present in the people we do business with and friends, family and associates with whom we interact. We simply take it for granted that people should tell the truth simply as a matter of living their lives. Telling the truth builds integrity and reputation. We seek out those whose reputation is such as to lead us to believe they will not cheat us when we hire them for a job or pay them money for a project around our homes. We take our cars to a garage where the reputation for honesty is known far and wide since we don’t want to be “taken” when we get to the bottom line. We depend on truth every day of our lives.

The fact is, we make most, if not all, of our decisions based on the assumption we are acting on truth. Even if we think there is a little “fudging” in the telling, we still assume the foundation of the information is based on truth. When it comes to investing our money, buying a house or car, or having an operation based on what the doctor has told us, we hear the words spoken and understand them in their conventional meaning and accept them as truth. With that truth we enter into the agreement that places our resources, and perhaps our very lives, in the hands of the person who is speaking the information and hope it is the truth so as when we proceed with our decision of action it will be on the foundation of truth rather than a lie.

Even though we try to separate out the basis for our moral standing by pushing away Biblical principles form the public sector of life, we have to depend on the basic morality of telling the truth simply to engage in commerce. When God gave the “Ten Commandments” to Moses and he brought them to the people, it was to establish a standard of living and interaction between the people not only in their relationship with God, but with each other as well. When a people understand the meaning of the Ten Commandments they understand they are standards that provide a civic order on which people may live and interact with each other through relationship. That relationship has to be built on trust so that commerce can proceed smoothly and with equity. One of the Commandments read thus:

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16)

A simple command, simply stated, but a powerful life-affirming necessity has been wrapped up in this simple statement. Perhaps this is the basis for court testimony when a person is under oath; perhaps it is a command that affirms the truth is greater and more stable than a lie. In our own court system this statement has been unpacked in the following oath to be affirmed before the witness takes the stand:

“Do you solemnly swear (or affirm) to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”

What could be any more complete than that? By answering, “I do” to that question the person has stepped onto a foundation of truth that is expected at all costs. First, the person must affirm “to tell the truth.” In our society that is a golden foundation because every action that follows that truth is a series of actions and decisions that are carried out on the basis of that truth. Words have consequences; truth has consequences; and, lies also have consequences. To cement the witness into the foundation of truth even further, he is asked to affirm he is telling “the whole truth.” Leaving nothing out, adding nothing to color the truth with bias or innuendo, but the “whole” truth. That leaves no room in the statement except what confirms the truth. Finally, the witness is asked to affirm, “Nothing but the truth.” The truth is paramount; it is complete, solid, unshakable, reliable, consistent and permanent. Upon that foundation of truth the very life of an individual may be in balance; it will determine the action of condemning to death or setting the person free.

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So now we have reached a point in our society where we are depending on leaders who have promised to tell the truth in all their dealings with establishing, implementing and enforcing laws under which we must all live. But we have found it is almost the norm for those leaders to play fast and loose with the truth. They are placing the yoke of restrictive law and regulation on the necks of the average citizen without encumbering themselves with the same laws and regulations. They are changing the meanings of their words from conventional, traditional meanings that brought understanding, to meanings that slip and slide through the maze of double-talk that manipulate the citizens into thinking they are “transparent” when they are double-dealing in the darkness of shadows.

When we are told one thing when the opposite is discovered after it has been imposed on the masses, it means the official who promised to tell the truth did not do so. When reasons for calamities are made-up reasons spouted across the land when the official person speaking knows it is a false reason, it means the official who promised to tell the truth did not tell the whole truth. When we are told by our officials they were unaware of the law-breaking occurring under their watch and only discovered it by seeing it on television, it means the official who promised to tell the truth failed to tell, “Nothing but the truth.”

Never mind not following the Commandment of God regarding telling the truth, these people disregard the laws of our land regarding the truth. How can the American people trust someone in power who continually fails even to live by the court edict to, “Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”

Our first clue that they know the truth, but plan to lie, is when they hide behind “Executive Privilege” and refuse to place themselves “under oath” at Congressional Hearings or investigations. We need to ask ourselves, “Do we really need these people as our leaders?”


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