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"Anyone bringing dog shit to a Stone Soup party should be forced to swallow the resulting soup themselves …"

"Do you swear to tell The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing But The Truth?" No, I'd feel compelled to decline this common invitation, and not only because I could not possibly have access to The Truth, let alone The Whole Truth, not to mention possess the superpower to access Nuthing But The Truth. This oath seems altogether too absolute, for I (along with every other human) can only access an offshoot truth, one I think of as my own: My Truth. I expect My Truth to be riddled with inadvertence, misconceptions which I have probably conflated as truth, but which perhaps represent common cognitive mistakes. I might have misunderstood an implication or two. I probably assumed some portion of My Truth to be utterly self-evident, when it doesn't seem to be self-evident to you. My beliefs and expectations likely affected not only what I perceived but also how I interpreted, catalogued, and stored my sensory experience. On close reflection, I realize that I don't feel nearly as confident of what I witnessed. I can offer only my impressions.

My impressions might well prove useful, however, even if they cannot quite meet the standards of genuine The Truths, The Whole Truths, or Nothing But The Truths.
By weaving together other testimony, also subject to the same caveats limiting my testimony's veracity, we might together manage to cobble together some close-enough proximity to The Truth, our even The Whole Truth, though it will inescapably be partly comprised of considerably less that Nutting But The Truth. We're forced to compromise due to natural limits of human cognition and retention, but we might approach some workable-enough truth to practicably stand in for the absent absolute.

The search for A Workable Truth becomes more important than any individual's prior possession of It, since It couldn't exist. The unscrupulous will insist that this compromise could not possibly be good enough, but more as a defense than as a reasonable argument. The guilty, of course, hold a vested interest in deliberately lying, either by omission, by withholding pieces of their truth, or by intentional commission, by trying to pass off something far less than their My Truth. These are crimes against the process, but often damned difficult to ascertain, prompting he-said/she-said controversies. Even these might be mitigated by a fair, or even a fair-ish, process, which encourages the notion that the process serves as more useful than any individual's My Truth.

A workable oath would be much better stated as "I swear to share My Truth, My Whole Truth, with the intention to contributing to the discovery of A Workable Whole Truth," even without the obligatory "so help me God" appended to the end. The Utopian nature of the more traditional oath transforms a swearing in into a double binding, and truths despise double binding because they force shavings workable My Truths to fit a presumed narrative. They reinforce an utterly disqualifying confidence while presuming an unachievable prescience on the witness's part. Agreeing to assume personal responsibility for providing The Truth diminishes a witness' ability to share that part of the mythical The Truth they might actually possess. My Truth, shared with the explicit intention of arriving at a workable, shared Whole Truth, seems to be the best any witness could ever provide. Attempting to elicit more or different from that seems to reduce the veracity of anything a witness might feel moved to say.

Perjury might be defined as a willful attempt to inhibit arriving at a Workable Shared Whole Truth. Through the ten thousand unavoidable inadvertences and the equally numerous misconceptions, the good will of the adversaries to contribute to discovering that Workable Shared Whole Truth makes the difference in light of the absence of the most unimpeachable witness, that being The Whole, Nuthing But, Truth. Deliberate lies fly in the face of justice. Inadvertent misconceptions seem the very foundation upon which the blind lady holding the scales stands. Each advocate contributes Their Story, rather like bestowing another ingredient for inclusion in the Stone Soup everyone will ultimately have to swallow. Anyone bringing dog shit to a Stone Soup party should be forced to swallow the resulting soup themselves, guilty of more than anyone was originally charged with, guilty of perverting the sacred process by which we determine what Our Truth might actually be this time.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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