Jeanette Sekan
Jeanette Sekan
By Jeanette Sekan
The Cody (Wyo.) Enterprise

Voir Dire. Anglo-French phrase meaning “to speak the truth.”

This term is commonly used in the legal profession. We need to re-introduce this term into our lexicon so we can determine why truth is such a difficult concept today.

We are having a national struggle with truth. If we’re having this struggle on a large scale, we’re probably having it on a more personal level as well.

Our acceptance of the cumulative diminishment of societal norms has many unintended consequences. One is our belief that truth, along with baseline facts, is flexible. Once we commit to that path all we know is soon to be lost.

Some are questioning long-held scientific truths and facts. If we don’t like gravity, we question its existence. We can’t see the equator, so is it there? We can’t touch the stars, so are they a conspiracy?

Thrust, drag, lift, air pressure and other things in a precise mathematical equation allow planes to fly. I don’t grasp the many algebraic computations that put that plane in the air, but I trust the facts of the science every time I set foot on a plane. There are other scientific and non-scientific factors that could cause the plane to fall. But the plane can fly even if I don’t know how.

Many queries, along with known scientific realities, allowed man to use truth, knowledge, inquisitiveness and applied risk to advance civilization. Without some agreed-upon “knowns” – whether we call them truths or facts or a combination of both – how do we advance?

How do we make any decisions? How do we navigate life’s day-to-day challenges? How do we know what to do without the road map of facts and truths provided to us by those who came before, and those who know more than we do?

If we begin to allow a few to get under our skin, where we begin to question our own intelligence, how will we continue to ferret out facts and truth so we will know how to behave with friends, coworkers, family or ourselves?

It shouldn’t be hard to live a truthful life, but it seems to get harder. When I watch the news and watch anyone say one thing today, but completely contradict themselves tomorrow, I realize that there is an untruth there somewhere.

It may take time, but we can figure out when someone is lying to us, even if we don’t want to believe someone would lie to us. Usually, we’re trusting, and should be. But when someone repeatedly shows who they are, we should believe them and not question what we know.

It’s good to give the benefit of the doubt. There are nuances and gray areas of life. It’s good to question. It’s good to give second chances. It’s good to be kind. But when the pattern remains, the truth – like water – does seek its own level.

Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once said, “I know it when I see it” when trying to define obscenity. Truth is like that. We know when we see it, and we know when it is absent. Pay attention. Decide and act accordingly.

Jeanette Sekan is a columnist for the Cody Enterprise in Cody, Wyo. and a former resident of Ohio. The award-winning newspaper is owned by Sage Publishing Co. of Cody, Wyo. Jeanette’s columns are published in The Highland County Press, courtesy of the author and the Cody Enterprise (