During the voir dire process (during which prospective trial jurors are questioned and a panel is chosen) when I was recently on jury duty, one of the attorneys said jurors must decide if a witness is honest.
Certainly, that’s true, but I was struck by its full implication.
Every witness swears before taking the stand he or she will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Everyone knows doing otherwise could result in a perjury conviction and jail time. Some of the witnesses are seated as “experts.” Some are law enforcement officers.
Still, a question each juror faces with each witness – before even considering how the testimony affects the case – is whether the witness is telling the truth.
I find that a little mind-boggling. It’s an incredible responsibility to put on a jury.
However, don’t we do that all the time?
A commercial says it’s the best product ever. A kid says the dog must have broken the plate. A Facebook post says you’ll get rich for reposting something ridiculous. A sportscaster says the Houston Astros won the most exciting World Series of all time.
Well, that last one might be right.
What we’re asking of jurors isn’t outside the norm. We are all, every day, responsible for discerning whom to trust and whether to believe what we hear or even see.
Regrettably, that is well-illustrated by politicians.
To paraphrase Dr. Gregory House, all politicians lie. It may be as small as not refusing to accept credit for something he or she did not do. It could be implying one has the support of someone important or attempting to hide a connection to someone who has become persona non grata.
So, yes, most of us have come to accept a certain level of “insincerity” from politicians, and each must determine what is an acceptable amount.
Now, this is an important distinction.
Since we make that determination individually (or within groups who share similar values) what you and I think of a particular person’s reliability can differ considerably, mostly because one of us *wants* what that person says to be true and the other *wants* it to be a lie.
And that is what makes the discussions surrounding Donald Trump so aggravating.
Donald Trump lies all the time. Perhaps it’s a wiring defect in that he cannot tell the truth. He’s lived a life of saying whatever he wants to be true and his hired hands have either made it true or repeated it back to him as if it were. That’s why politics have been so frustrating for him. The sky is not proclaimed to be purple just because he says it is.
Furthermore – and I sincerely want this to be true – most of his diminishing number of supporters know he lies all the time.
They know it just like the rest of us. However, they cannot bring themselves to admit it because they made the decision to back Trump and that’s more important to them than anything else.
The crime in his lying – figuratively, if not literally – isn’t usually the lies themselves. It’s that we all get sidetracked by chasing the lies. While we’re digging into a basically pointless lie, he and his unqualified cabinet, assisted by Congress members who are equally dangerous or at least spineless, are laying waste to the environment, robbing the poor and enriching the rich.
I say this because I love you just as much as I do the hungry, sick, poor and disenfranchised people trampled upon by this administration.
And that’s no lie.