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ZYTARUK: Only the truth, and nothing but

Lying hurts all of us. You, me, them. All of us.

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So let it be written…

I’d been rocking back and forth on a neighbour’s garden swing, fiddling with a long wooden stick while squabbling with another boy over whatever it is kindergarten-age children fight about.

Distracted by the drama, I accidentally drove the far end of the stick into the lawn. My end, as a result, poked my belly, scratching it. I cried, and blamed the other boy. Why? I don’t know. I was probably about as embarrassed as a five-year-old child can get over such stuff, and no doubt angry about our spat.

People got in trouble. After the dust settled, my conscience poked me, too, and I told my mommy what I’d done. She immediately marched me over to the impugned boy’s house and had me apologize to him and his mommy, on their front doorstep.

Fortunately for me, my lie did not draw international attention. Nor did the prime minister weigh in on it, as Justin Trudeau, Ontario’s premier and Toronto’s mayor did after an 11-year-old Muslim girl back east recently claimed that a mustachioed Asian man snuck up behind her with blue-handled scissors and cut her hijab as she was walking to school. News conferences were held, fury was expressed, and police launched a hate-crime investigation.

“My heart goes out to the young girl who was attacked, seemingly for her religion,” Trudeau told reporters from behind a podium. “I can’t imagine how afraid she must have been.”

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Well, what could he say?

But as Shakespeare wrote in the Merchant of Venice, “The truth will out.”

After it was revealed the girl had lied, for reasons yet unknown, Trudeau had this to say to a reporter: “Unfortunately we’ve seen a pattern over the past months of increased hate crimes against religious minorities, particularly against young women of racialized backgrounds. This is something we need to take very, very, very seriously.”

It reminded me of an incident in Fleetwood, many years ago. An 18-year-old Sikh man claimed he’d been jumped by three white teens late one night, near a local school. They chased him, kicked him, ripped off his turban and performed the indignity of cutting his hair, an affront to Sikhism.

This story, too, was eagerly swallowed. Eagerly. Editorials were written, politicians made thumping condemnatory speeches and an anti-racism organization fired out a missive rallying the Sikh community to “unite and oppose the increasing racial assaults.”

But, as it turned out, the young man’s story was a lie. Surely he had good reason?

Nope, he just wanted a haircut, and didn’t have the guts to tell his family the truth. His lie spread like wildfire until, as always, the truth came out.

The Ten Commandments in the Bible tell us, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” I suspect you’ll also find that rule contained within the texts of other major world religions.

Lying hurts all of us. You, me, them. All of us.

So I’ll leave you with my favourite Shakespeare quote: “No legacy is so rich as honesty.”

Words to live by.

You’ll find them in All’s Well that Ends Well, Act III, Scene 5.

So let it be done.

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