“The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth”


As you well know by reading my articles and hearing my presentations over the years, you know that I have never “felt the calling” to step into the ring of political commentaries; there’s just too many people already talking about it; I think to myself, “What could I say that hasn’t already been said?”

Well, I’m about to break my own rules – maybe. Why a “maybe” here? Because what I am about to say is not just true for politics, it is true for all of us, and more and more every day, we are failing to do it.

What is it? Telling the truth; and it is not only ignored today by those who know the truth, it is applauded if it helps their cause.

So, here I go.

Because of the nature of my professional work, I have found myself spending time in and around court rooms, and long ago when I was just getting started, one old-time attorney was giving me some advice as I was about to be called up in a case to testify. He said this to me:

“Young man, have you ever noticed that when someone is about to testify, before testifying they are asked this questions – ‘Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?’

He went on.

“The reason why they use these three phrases back to back, all seeming to say the same thing, “tell the truth”, is because each may seem the same, but they are actually three separate ideals”.

I had never heard this; I waited for more.

“You see, young man, it’s not enough just to tell the truth. For example, I could ask a witness on the stand under oath, ‘Where were you on a certain night’ and they could say, ‘at home’, and that could be true; but would it be the whole truth? Not if they were also somewhere else that night. You see, just telling the truth is not really telling the truth at all unless you tell the whole truth, along with something else – nothing but the truth”.

Wow, I got it! My talk with that old-time attorney all those years ago was a powerful, enlightening moment in my life; telling the truth was not the truth at all if you did not just tell the truth, but the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

 But have you noticed lately, especially as related to our presidential race, have you noticed how many of the key players might be telling the truth, but it’s not the whole truth.

Case in point was last night at the Democratic National Convention. I did not watch it, but I tuned into a television talk show this morning that leans Democrat to see what occurred last night. What I heard immediately is that the speech by Michelle Obama, the president’s wife, was perhaps the most powerful speech in the history of the DNC.

“Wow” I thought, “What did she say that was so powerful?”, and at that same moment they played what they said was one very powerful moment in her speech. It said this:

“I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves,” she said. “And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women, playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.”

 I thought, “Is that true? Did slaves really build the White House?” I did my internet search, and as I typed in my question, the search tool already knew what my question was; must really be a lot of curious people heating up the “cloud”.

So, what is the answer? Did slaves really build the White House?

Yes – and No.

You say, “What do you mean, yes and no?”

Well, remember the old-time attorney? Remember the oath you must take in court, to swear that you will not only tell the truth, but the whole truth? And that in court if you do not tell the whole truth it is not considered to be the truth at all.

Given that premise, Michelle Obama, did not tell the truth. You see, Negro slaves did help build the White House, but certainly did not build the entire White House; her statement just isn’t true, and I and about another 200 million Americans fell for it, and will believe it forever because the sad state of our nation today is that most never take the time to do a fact check  on most anything that they hear – they just believe.

Well, I did my research by picking what I believe to be two nonpolitical, credible sources to see what they each said. Here is what I could find about the building of the White House from these two sources:

From Wikipedia: “Construction of the White House began with the laying of the cornerstone on October 13, 1792, although there was no formal ceremony.[13] The main residence, as well as foundations of the house, were built largely by enslaved and free African-American laborers, as well as employed Europeans.[14] Much of the other work on the house was performed by immigrants, many not yet with citizenship. The sandstone walls were erected by Scottish immigrants, employed by Hoban, …[15]

 From The White House Historical Association: The D.C. commissioners, charged by Congress with building the new city under the direction of the president, initially planned to import workers from Europe to meet their labor needs. However, response to recruitment was dismal and soon they turned to African American — enslaved and free — to provide the bulk of labor that built the White House, the United States Capitol, and other early government buildings.

Stonemason Collen Williamson trained enslaved people on the spot at the government’s quarry at Aquia, Virginia. Enslaved people quarried and cut the rough stone that was later dressed and laid by Scottish masons to erect the walls of the President’s House. The slaves joined a work force that included local white laborers and artisans from Maryland and Virginia, as well as immigrants from Ireland, Scotland, and other European nations.

So, enough said. And to all reading and publicly speaking and writing (and running for President of the United States) – tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God.

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