truth compass

“Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” That is the question that all witnesses in a trial have to swear to before they give testimony. In these past few years, aren’t there people you would love to see on the witness stand have to swear to that—and face perjury charges if they strayed from it? I have a few in mind and I bet you do too.

Why is the oath written that way? Because adding or subtracting from the whole truth is lying as much as telling a full-fledged lie. Withholding information or mixing truth and falsehood is misrepresenting the true situation and can complicate or prevent solutions. And it is true that telling a lie many times doesn’t make it true, nor does the number of people who believe the lie make it true. 

Now people may have differing opinions about facts, figures, people, events, etc. That is certainly up for discussion. But the truth of a matter is not. As Senator Daniel Moynihan of New York famously said, “You do have the right to your own opinion but you do not have the right to your own facts.” In work, at home, in any endeavor, especially working on a team, adherence to truth is important. It builds trust, and teamwork, the next rule of the road.

Photo by Olivier Le Moal