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Importance of the truth cannot be understated

The subject of truth has been on my mind lately.

Truth has been a subject about which many great men and women have spoken and written.

John Keats was the one who said, "’Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’ ­ that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

John D. Rockefeller Jr. talked about truth and justice being "fundamental to an enduring social order."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once stated: "Let us, then, be what we are; speak what we think; and in all things keep ourselves loyal to truth."

If I remember correctly, it was Henry David Thoreau who said, "It takes two to speak the truth ­ one to speak, and another to hear."

Sometimes that other person just doesn’t hear, though.

All of us have been faced with wondering if someone is telling the truth. And, in the newspaper business, reporters face that even more often.

But, this isn’t about wondering if someone’s telling the truth. It’s about believing.

I’m sure most of you have had someone question your truthfulness. I’m no different. But, when I’m telling the truth and someone doesn’t believe me, it hurts.

In The Marquis of Lossie, George MacDonald wrote: "To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved."

How true that statement is to me.

I remember a conversation my brother, Jimmy, and I had some time ago. I asked him if he’d rather be liked or respected and he said he’d rather have someone like him. At that time, I was adamant that I’d rather have someone respect me. I even told him I didn’t care if a person likes me, but having that person’s respect was the important thing.

Years have passed since that conversation, but I still believe that as much now as I did then. (I don’t know if Jimmy’s opinion has changed or not.)

Having someone believe me is the ultimate compliment. But, when someone doesn’t take my word for what it’s worth, it makes me wonder where I went wrong.

I’ve always considered myself a truthful person. I believe in telling things like they are and that sometimes gets me in trouble, but it’s also what makes me a good reporter.

I take the relationships ­ both personal and professional ­ I share with people seriously and find it troubling if the other person doesn’t believe me.

The thing I have to remember is something Thomas Brooks said way back in 1662. He said, "Truth is mighty and will prevail."

And, it will.

Beth Lakey is a staff writer for The Messenger. She may be reached via e-mail at beth.lakey@troymessenger.com or by calling 670-6317.

Jan. 31, 2000 9 PM