Rowell’s Words: If the truth be known

Published 5:17 pm Thursday, December 16, 2021

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How often have you heard someone start a sentence with “If the truth be known”? To me, that translates to “I probably shouldn’t say this; but, I’m going to anyway”. The truth is important but it’s like fire. Both are essential but both can also be harmful.

There is a classic line in the movie “A Few Good Men”. The Tom Cruise character shouts at Jack Nicholson, “I want the truth”. Nicholson quickly responds, “You can’t handle the truth”. It is so profound that it has found its place in the annals of movie lines.

Justice can best be served at times without knowing the truth. That is not saying that lying is better than being truthful. It simply means there are times when something should not be said at all.

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Silent can truly be golden. Abraham Lincoln once said ““Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt”. That sounds like something a person nicknamed “Honest Abe” would say.

Let’s say that Mary is now a senior citizen that was raised by two loving parents.
The last one has just passed and, in a deathbed confession, tells her that they are not her biological parents. Is Mary’s life better now that she now knows this secret?

There is Tom. He has been a good neighbor, community volunteer, and Church leader for over forty years. Should the truth be told that Tom once did time for a stupid act he committed as a teenager?

I always had a close relationship with my father. It got even closer the last couple of years of his life. He had cancer and knew the end was near. I spent a lot of time taking care of him. Daddy and I had a lot of time to talk with the trips to hospitals, doctors, etc.
He shared a lot of his war experiences. I appreciated that, but not so much the hidden skeletons in our family closet. The people involved have long since passed and he was the only one left with that information.

I don’t know why; but he felt it necessary to pass it on. I think I will take a Harry Truman approach and let the buck stop here. There is no reason to pass something like that down. Though those involved are long gone, they left family that can only be hurt.

There is also the other side of the coin in which what is said is not the truth. It gets told enough and becomes accepted as the truth. Ask anyone who said “Play it again, Sam” and the majority will say Humphrey Bogart. He never said that line in the movies.

It’s now claimed that Julius Caesar’s last words were not “Et tu, Brutus”. That’s what Shakespeare said he said. I find it hard to believe a man stabbed 20 to 30 times could may a sensible comment anyhow.

I remember, as a kid, the joy and excitement of waking up Christmas morning and seeing what Santa Claus brought. Later some of the older kids on the school playground shared what they believed about Santa. I bought into it; and, it was never the same until I had children of my own.

It was then, and though them, I finally realized the real truth about St. Nick. “Yes Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus”.
God bless and have a great day.

A sage and great writer, William Rowell can be reached at