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The Half Truth

Beware of the Half Truth, you may have gotten hold of the wrong half.

-Anonymous

According to Wikipedia, “A half-truth is a deceptive statement that includes some element of truth. The statement might be partly true, the statement may be totally true but only part of the whole truth, or it may utilize some deceptive element, such as improper punctuation, or double meaning, especially if the intent is to deceive,evade,blame or misrepresent the truth.”

I have been thinking about the “half-truth” lately; it seems to be coming up in all sorts of contexts these days.  When reference is made to the “half-truth,” we instinctually think of the definition that wikipedia so kindly outlines.  I got to thinking, however; how often is the “half-truth” meant to deceive?  And, how often is the “half-truth” only a statement?  Can’t it be an action, an attitude, a feeling, a motivation?

I think, yes.  To all of those.  I think we are all half-truths, in some way or another.  It’s like that exercise we do sometime in school, where you cover up a part of a sentence and read it.  Then you uncover the whole sentence and read it again only to find that the meaning has completely changed.

Photo courtesy of: http://cmybacon.com/

In my opinion, the “half-truth” is really just that.  Half.  half of the whole, half of the intention, half of the reality.  We choose which half based on what we want to convey.  Sometimes, half is all we wnat to hear. And sometimes, we don’t even choose the half: we hold onto the half that would make us fall apart if we lost it.

A single mom in a job interview might say: “I really love this job and I think I’d fit in great!”  That’s a “half-truth.”  The whole truth?  “I really need this job because if I don’t get a job I’ll lose my apartment and won’t be able to feed my child… tomorrow.”  But really, who says that in a job interview? (unless, of course, you want the pity and the manager to think, yeah, I don’t need this problem on my hands…)

I’m sure we can all think of our own lives and our whole stories.  Which part of the story do you share and what are your reasons for only giving a “half-truth?”  Are you being malicious?  I know I’m not.  And, I have quite a bit of the story still hidden behind the screen.

So in all these situations that come before me, I need to remember that I’m only seeing the “half-truth.”  One side of the story.  Most importantly, however, I need to realize that the hidden side of the story might be the side that matters more.

And the hardest part: I might never get the other side… the Whole Truth.

2 thoughts on “The Half Truth

  1. In the past, I’ve definitely told half-truths with malicious intent, or out of fear and self-preservation. Now, my reasons are usually more harmless.

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    1. I think we’ve all done it with malicious intent… and sometimes I’m still tempted… Sometimes I have to think about other people’s motivations, however.

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