In the search for truth, the truth is: Truth is often hidden between black and white, somewhere in a gray shade.
Truth crept through my mind a couple weeks ago, during a visit to my mother in Illinois. Someone had given her a copy of George Washington: A Life, a highly-praised biography Ron Chernow published in 2010.
On the 779-mile drive back to the Red River Valley, I used Chernow’s book as a conduit to pondering on truth, since we all know El Presidente Numero Uno could not tell a lie. Right?
I think most of us born before the 21st century remember the story about George Washington chopping down the cherry tree, and how he owned up to the deed when confronted by Papa Washington.
“I can not tell a lie,” young Georgie reportedly said. “I chopped down the cherry tree.”
Our teachers and parents, even strangers on the street, would fall back on the George and the cherry tree story to illustrate the importance of telling the truth. Although, I’ve heard it said it was easier to tell the truth in Washington’s day, because there were no income tax forms to fill out.
I’ve also heard and read — including in Chernow’s book — the entire cherry tree incident is bogus. In fact, a preponderance of evidence indicates young Washington never chopped down a cherry tree and uttered the words “I can not tell a lie,” anymore then he threw a silver dollar across the Potomac River when he was a young man. (Pssst! The Potomac’s over a mile wide, and there were no silver dollars in Washington’s lifetime.)
So, was the “truth” of our childhood really a lie? Probably so. Does that diminish the importance of the object lesson? Probably not.
Fact or fiction, the cherry tree story supports the theory that “truth” can be fluid. “Truth” is essential to the human experience — it’s just that “truth” often has to be distilled through gray tones of impression, interpretation and ambiguity.
In our justice system, witnesses must swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Still, almost every time a witness starts to testify and give the truth, some lawyer will object.
That’s because a court trial is a place you can see truth in action. Most witnesses do not come to court to lie, they merely present the “truth” from their own interpretation. That’s why two witnesses can testify about the same incident, but their testimony is diametrically opposed.
It’s up to lawyers, juries and judges to find where truth lies in the testimony presented.
There are times withholding the truth is necessary in maintaining friendships. If a female friend asks for your opinion of a new hairdo, sometimes it’s better to withhold the truth than to answer honestly.
Truth is often violated by silence, but it can be equally outraged by silence. So, most of us will say, “Your hair looks great,” even if the truth is her hair looks like a bramble bush.
There are times when the truth hurts, especially when you step on a scale or catch a glimpse of your face in the mirror in the morning.
I remember getting together with a group of friends who shared coffee breaks. It was a round table of wisdom, at which most of the problems of the town, county, state, country and universe were solved.
There was one fellow who would begin lecturing ... er, informing us of his opinion, and when he got wound up, eventually he’d repeatedly utter the phrase, “Trust me, I’m going to tell you the truth.”
It made me wonder what he’d been telling us five minutes before.
Anyway, determining truth is a life-time search; a winding journey that, hopefully, ends in honesty.
As you continue the search, here are a few adages that may help you recognize truth when it slaps you in the face:
n Truth needs no crutches — if it limps, it’s a lie.
n To hear truth and not accept it does not nullify it.
n The truth is one thing for which there are no known substitutes.
n Listen to those who seek the truth; be wary of those who try to convince you they’ve found it.
n Some people have a reverence for the truth. They always keep a respectable distance from it.
n Truth is stranger than fiction, because fiction has to make sense.
And that’s the truth.
580-255-5354, Ext. 172
A Christmas ride to remember
Eighty-year-old Gerald Marlar hasn’t ridden a bicycle regularly for decades, but he and five of his buddies are making certain Duncan children get that opportunity this Christmas.
It’s just one of many behind-the-scenes stories that makes The Toy Shop, started by Church Women United in 1944, a special place where magical things happen and selfless, giving deeds create bright, toothpaste smiles each holiday season.
Marlar, Bill Cope, Glen Peterson, Tom Stone, Ron Coon and Joe Norton have become modern day elves, logging hours in The Toy Shop’s busy bicycle room on Ninth Street, assembling two-wheel masterpieces of all sizes and colors for good little boys and girls and adding a dash of love with each one.
Whatever you call him, Santa is loved by all
Boys and girls of all ages, here is some festive poetic verse I know we all have stored in our memory banks. So, feel free to recite along:
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
gave the luster of mid-day to objects below.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be Generous Pho Pho...
Generous Pho Pho?
Fiscal impact of state question 766 for counties, schools, and career technology centers
On November 12, 2012, S.Q. 766 was on a ballot and went to the vote of the people to eliminate tax assessments on intangible personal property. What you might not know is that prior to the vote of S.Q. 766, legislation was already in place to prevent any NEW tax assessments on intangible personal property.
City’s new budget our plan for future
All eyes should be focused on members of the Duncan City Council and its professional staff as work continues in putting together a budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
It is an important document.
It is a large document.
It is an expensive document.
It affects us all.
A word of thanks for unsung heroes
Conversations the past several days have centered on the weather with emphasis on bitter cold temperatures, treacherous driving conditions, inconvenience and a forecast that calls for little change in the immediate future.
Now seems an appropriate time to express our appreciation.
Affordable healthcare is here
The Republican Party’s angst against the colloquially named “Obamacare” is probably due to the millions of dollars they have wasted demeaning it. Whether they like it or not, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) can only be reversed if voters become lazy and allow Republicans to gain control of all three branches of our federal government. What both parties should do is look ahead to when the PPACA is fully implemented. Then, evaluate the final results when affordable healthcare for everyone is completed. A negative critique of a project at its inception is a wasteful effort in futility, politically and financially.
Ruling is in the hand of God
Last week the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Sebelius vs. Hobby Lobby, the landmark lawsuit addressing the constitutionally guaranteed rights of business owners to operate their company without violating their religious convictions. No date has been set for the case to be heard, but it is expected to be decided by June.
Decades later, shock remains
The memory is still vivid. Nov. 22, 1963. Shortly after 1 p.m. A Friday. Sophomore year in high school. Walking down the second floor hallway to an English class.
Over the public address system came a familiar voice, that of the principal. The announcement was shocking. President John Kennedy had been shot, possibly killed.
Laughter stopped. Jokes subsided. Conversations ended. Girls cried. Disbelief reigned.
Last week, visiting Dallas, I relived the horror and the feeling was much like that I recall 18 years ago. I was limp.
At least there’s a music soundtrack for Black Friday
When I started to spoon out some dressing from the Thanksgiving turkey, what came out was a dollop of the sticky notes that serve as my memory. Talk about dry — but they were well-seasoned:
Count me among the folks who would rather be tossed naked into a briar patch than spend one nano-second in the Black Friday mosh pit that has eliminated “thanks” from the Thanksgiving holiday. (OK, I’ll pause a moment to let you erase the vision of me naked from your mind’s eye!)
Anyway, I’m not much of a shopper to begin with, and the thought of participating in the Black Friday is less appealing than drinking gasoline to cure strep throat. But I did find one thing that was kinda cool about this shopping insanity. It was a list called the Top 20 Songs for Black Friday, which was compiled by Michael Saltsman for the Wolfgang’s Vault website.
Filing opportunity opens for leaders
The opportunity is here. The window of time is brief. The importance of consideration is critical. And the decisions are important.
It is filing time for political offices, time for current leaders to re-commit, time for people with a vision to emerge, time for citizens to pay their civic rent.
The process begins tomorrow.
- More Opinion Headlines
- A Christmas ride to remember