Whenever a trial is in the news, as the one in Kenosha is, I start noticing the judge’s expressions — especially when the new witnesses come in.
“Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”
Part of me expects a witness to ask “All three?”
The truth is straightforward. I’m sitting at my desk typing and thinking this up as I go — not working from paper notes. I’ve crossed three things off my to-do list already today.
The whole truth is bigger. I’m writing in the morning because I have to go to the eye doctor later. I won’t want to see anything small, like type on a screen, when I get home. The radiator in my apartment has the air in here around 84 degrees, so I’ve put my hair up with combs and I’m thinking about a ponytail again before I go out. There are a lot of other things I could mention about my surroundings, but there’s the point — they’re still part of the whole truth, but you just don’t need them. I keep thinking that editing is not meant to be part of the whole truth.
Nothing but the truth is the third kind of truth in testimony. Anything that gets mentioned needs to be true. For example, I had to look at my wall thermometer to make sure it was still in the 80s in here, because I feel cooler. I can’t testify about how cold it is outside because I haven’t gone out. I could tell you after I check. Meanwhile, “I feel cooler” is the truth, but it is only part of the truth.
So you see? These are three different kinds of truth. When I think of them, I feel a little better about the inescapable interviews with various celebrities who want to “tell their truths.” It makes me nervous that different people can have different truths; I feel better about many people having pieces of the whole truth.
After all, we still talk about the truth, and that’s singular.