A terrible lesson for children
Surely most of America and indeed the world must be in a state of shock over a prominent lawyer declaring that truth is not truth in referring to Donald Trump, who continues to face a tidal wave of allegations linking his presidential election campaign with Russia.
Most of the world is fully aware of the major investigation under way by special prosecutor Robert Mueller to probe every aspect of what happened, irrespective of who might have been involved. Getting at the truth has touched a nerve with Trump, his supporters, and at least one lawyer — former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who went as far as to state that “truth is not truth”.
Giuliani has suggested that Trump should never appear before Mueller, which he felt was a perjury trap. He actually told one news host that Trump’s version of the truth could differ from that of the Mueller team.
It is not unusual for lawyers to revert to extreme tactics when representing a client. However, it would appear a line has been crossed in sending a message that truth is no longer relevant. While that may not have been the lawyer’s intention, such a statement can only create problems over values that young people should be taught about truth and decency.
Children throughout the world are being encouraged to read so that they may learn about life and how truth and decency are vital factors in meeting various challenges. What on earth are children to think when they hear a leading figure in the world’s most powerful country say “truth is not truth”?
When someone testifies in a court of law, they swear to tell the truth, not their version of the truth. That is important because when evidence is solid, the jury will usually pick up any deviation.
If Trump, as he has stated countless times, did nothing wrong and has nothing to hide, telling the truth should be no problem. However, if his lawyers are terrified of him appearing before Mueller, they seem to know more about Trump than he knows about himself. With a history of making statements throughout his presidency that were later proved false, truth becomes an issue.
Leaders of any democratic society are expected to be truthful and committed to values that build rather than divide.
In the world of politics, getting at the truth is never an easy task for the best of journalists. Truth at times can be very positive, while it can also be extremely ugly when it reveals conduct that falls far below what is expected from those in leadership positions.
When any leader is not able to stand on truth, it not only weakens a government but key principles of democracy are at risk, which is never a good thing.
We often speak of children as being torchbearers of the future. They will be badly handicapped if they are not armed with values that promote respect, truth and decency. People being described as dogs or rats should never be accepted conduct from anyone in authority. We all know when tempers flare that most of us have been guilty of breaches in this area. That is no excuse for such terms to be used as the norm, regardless of political position or status.
I recall leaving Sunday school many decades ago when the song of dismissal ended with the words “we must be kind and true”. That is an ingredient badly needed in much of the world today.
Truth, like it or not, will be the only anchor of any decent society. Even here in our lovely Bermuda, we must never let our guard down in upholding truth, freedom, decency and respect for civil order. Without that lesson, even our children will be at risk.