In court all witnesses are required to perjure themselves by swearing “to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”. It is impossible.
What is “the truth”? What is a lie?
“Thou shalt not lie” is not even one of the Ten Commandments. Neither is it one of the Seven Deadly Sins”. Curious, eh?
Did you know that devout Shiites are commanded by their faith to lie, so as to conceal their identity.
Everybody lies, all the time. Isn’t make-up a lie, or dying your hair? How about protecting your child from unpleasant facts by saying: “She’s asleep now with Jesus”?
Exaggeration is a lie too. TV commercials, sales pitches, and motivational speeches, are at best exaggerations, at worst deliberate concealments of truth.
Politicians and corporations have their own brand of truth, for which we use the euphemism “spin”. The defining example of spin was Bill Clinton’s prevarication about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. When asked whether he was having an affair with her he said: "there is nothing going on between us." When later challenged by the grand jury, he replied: "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is....Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true."
No coincidence that he started out as a lawyer, like most politicians.
Even if what I say is partly true, my underlying intention to manipulate you in itself turns the entire message into a lie. Intention counts. But curiously it does not work the other way around.
If I espouse a falsehood while believing it is the truth, if I did not intend to lie, my intention does NOT make my falsehood true. If I genuinely believe that God created the universe in six days and that Evolution is a hoax that belief of mine does not render “Creationism” true, not even for yourself. “Personal truth” is a lie.
So, truth is only about undeniable facts, but which facts?
If I am a fighter pilot launching a missile from my F-18 at Ahmed am I the killer of Ahmed in the same sense of Ahmed’s jealous neighbor who knifed him, or the engineer who supervised the dumping of toxins into Ahmed’s drinking water (Ahmed keeps dying from multiple causes)? If the pilot and the neighbor and the engineer were called before a jury would they all be convicted as killers, as the truth would demand? Which of them is the “true” killer?
Certain things though are clear-cut lies. “Official truths” for instance, which are nothing but sanctioned falsehoods, or “half-truths” and “white lies”, as if truth could be parceled into smaller portions like a half-rotten apple.
But what about fudging, or being polite, or just keeping your mouth shut when you know the truth?
Since we can never know everything, does it follow that every truth must contain a lie just waiting to be discovered? And if all truths are only relative, personal, and temporary then there is no such thing as Truth in an absolute sense, and therefore neither can there be a Lie? (Maybe that’s why lie detectors are not admissible as evidence in court).
Truth and lies it seems are in the eyes of the beholder, just like
The Kvetching Factory
"Start every day with a smile and get it over with" (W.C. Fields)