There are moments in our lives when we see or hear something that has a profound impact on how we think, and more importantly, how we act. Etched in stone on the campus of the United States Military Academy at West Point are words from the Cadet Prayer. There is a sentence in that prayer that moved me, and now serves as a filter for how I judge the information I receive, and how I relay information I want to convey. It also influences how I respect others.

“Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong and never to be content with a half truth when the whole truth can be won.”

The first half of that sentence addresses the moral choices we all make. The word courage and candor both come to mind. To advocate for a point of view — when you have something to lose — requires courage. To advocate for a point of view — when you have nothing to lose — requires only a microphone or a pen.

In this age of social media and cancel culture, it requires courage to state or defend a belief because the cancel culture mob can render a person unemployable for simply expressing a different opinion. It is easier to choose the easier wrong if it means keeping your job. The mob knows this and depends on this for its power.

There is a saying: “All personal conflict arises from differing expectations that humans have of one another”.

To illustrate the point, I expect my wife will empty the trash can in the kitchen. That seems fair since I was out cutting firewood. However, my wife expects me to empty the kitchen trash can since she was busy balancing the checkbook. Conflict. Neither of us was being mean; we simply had differing expectations.

If you look at some of the heated topics of the day, I think much of it comes down to our frustration with the second half of that line from the cadet prayer.

“Never be content with a half truth when the whole truth can be won.”

If I ask my wife if she thinks I am gaining too much weight to fit into my new suit, I don’t expect the whole truth; I don’t even expect a half truth. I expect a bold-faced lie. She tells me I don’t look like I have gained any weight, and I like that answer. We are both happy.

There are certain people we expect to have the courage to tell the whole truth, not a half-truth. I want my news to be a reporting of facts. Too many members of the national media have adopted the practice of presenting half-truths. They only report the facts that reinforce a left-leaning narrative. We expect journalists to win the whole truth when reporting a story. I think this explains why the October Gallup poll has only 36 percent of the public believing the media can be trusted. How ironic that coincides with USA Today’s poll showing Joe Biden with an approval of 38 percent. Maybe this is a coincidence and maybe it’s not. Either way, the national media has abdicated its role as watchdog journalist, became politicians, and the numbers show it.

We really expect our law enforcement agencies and the judicial officers (DAs and judges) to be fully committed to the whole truth and not half-truths. To seek a half-truth only could result in the innocent losing their liberty or their life. This is why the prosecution is required to turn over all of the evidence to the defense — even evidence that could be used to benefit the defendant. Citizens want the whole truth, not a half-truth. I would not want to end up in jail over a half-truth.

We expect law enforcement and the courts to seek the whole truth.
We expect the media to report the whole truth.
We should accept nothing less from them, or ourselves.

The harder right is always more difficult to face than the easier wrong. That’s why we are not good at it.

I need to lose some weight or buy a new suit. That’s the whole truth.

Ken Robertson Jr. is a former Iredell County commissioner and retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army

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