Truth is a term with a very ambiguous meaning for most people today. Pilot asked Jesus, ‘What is truth?” We are bombarded from every side with facts reported to be “the truth.” Yet, we no sooner finish reading one report giving us the “truth” about certain foods, drugs, practices, diets, etc. than we receive the latest “breaking news” that has a different truth about the same things.
I do not believe in “situational ethics,” which allow the truth to be “fitted” to the situation at hand. I also do not believe in ‘little white lies,” “fibs,” or “just kidding,” excuses for lies. There is truth and its opposite: a lie.
Years ago, my husband taught me how to use neurolinguistics to help determine when my student(s) were lying to me. It proved to be a helpful bit of information as I always stumped the guilty student by knowing (s)he was lying to my face. It saved a lot of arguing and wrangling over semantics. However, with today’s children, it is more difficult. I feel the problem is that if a child has not been brought up with a strong moral base of thinking, (s)he really does not see anything as “a lie.” In fact, it is easy for these children to become convinced that the lie is really truth.
So, how do we deal with it? For me, I prepare the way by teaching my students from day one that God has given us a moral code (Ten Commandments) by which we are to live if we want a successful life. I also reward students who tell the truth by forgoing their just punishment if they told the truth. Thus far, that has worked for me. I also share with them the one lie I told to my parents as a teen which caused my brother to get the blame for my action. I shared how I owned up to the lie when my brother was nearing 50 years old. He forgave me, as did my parents. But I carried a lot of guilt over the years.
Probably the worst thing to do is lie yourself to catch a liar. I did this as a young superintendent when a student kept stealing the large candy bars one mother packed for her child’s lunch every day.
My custodian, my teacher, nor myself, could catch the thief. We could never find the wrappers as evidence. Finally, I told my students that the police department had put a special chemical in the candy that was missing that particular day. It would show up on the teeth of the guilty student when we looked into their mouths with a special flashlight. I left the room to get the special light for the search. I had just left the room when the teacher came to get me. The thief had confessed to her. I dealt with the child who was very upset about the ten missing candy bars. He did answer my most nagging question: “How did you hide the evidence?” He confessed that he put the candy wrappers in the toilet tank before he ate the candy bar. Sure enough, floating in the toilet tank were the wrappers of ten large candy bars!
Could I have solved the case with only truth? I will never know. But it sure made me a more “savy” administrator!”