“The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” is the foundation statement for oaths or affirmations in many countries when giving sworn testimony. Bearing witness or giving testimony is a commitment to tell the truth. The penalty for not doing so is the crime of perjury.
Our lives are based on the presupposition that truth is the bedrock in public discourse, business, relationships, economic transactions, academic pursuits, and legal dispositions. Truth underscores fair play and following the rules, all inherent in the American dream. We count on honesty and truth in our lives.
We especially depend on honesty and truth from those in power. After all, those in power are charged with oversight for the welfare and benefit for all under their purview. Parents are responsible for the nurturing and development of their children. Employers provide payment and benefits for work received from their employees. The obligations and purposes of law and government are to protect public health, safety, and morals, and to advance the common good—including, protecting people’s fundamental rights and basic liberties.
The true responsibility of those in power is not to dominate or control, but to maintain and protect humanity and secure their well-being. The ideal civil and democratic society draws from all spheres of power influences with honest and truthful exchange for the welfare of its citizens.
Our esteemed elected officials take an oath of office, but nowhere are they required to tell any truth. Their oath does not compel them to be honest. They are however promising to “well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.” Yet a dysfunctional minority are blatantly lying and withholding information, undermining programs, like SNAP and the Affordable Care Act, designated for the common good for the people they serve.
I will be the first to say that the Affordable Care Act is far from perfect. I am experiencing a form of it first-hand in California. It has not been pleasant and I am not happy. However, it is better than the option of nothing I had before. Not only could I not get health care insurance, much less affordable insurance, health care providers no longer accept private-pay patients. I could not get any health care. That is just wrong in the wealthiest country on the planet. I will go so far to say it is sin that we do not provide a basic human right – access to affordable healthcare – for all of our people.
The Affordable Care Act is not the only area where truth is not being told. Falsehoods are also actively told about immigration, the poor, marriage equality, the climate, fair pay, gun violence, the mentally ill, and education.
Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving.
We deserve to have the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – not lies or distorted or misinformation – about programs, services, laws, practices, in other words everything, that affect any and all of us. We deserve to have leaders who are honest and truthful in all their dealings. We deserve to have a truthful conversation with one another even if we disagree or are not guaranteed to get our own way.
Truth is essential. It is time for all of us to look honestly into our hearts and commit ourselves to truth telling, truth living, and truth loving. Our future does depend on it.