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Why do some fear the truth so much?

In support of truth: demonstrators gather in front of Valletta’s Law Courts in Malta last week the day after journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed by a car bomb (Photograph by Rene Rossignaud/AP)

A journalist died this week in a small country, not so very much larger than ours; murdered by a car bomb for telling the truth — according to her grieving family.

What is truth?

Is it those mundane facts of consequences that are embedded in law, such as you must license your vehicle or face financial consequences; you perpetrate a financial crime against society, you will be punished according to the regimen defined by the law of the land.

Is it math? Where a finance outcome can be proved by a series of computations, that is two plus two equals four and never some other number, or investing $100 will earn you $2 a year if 2 per cent that is the interest rate.

Is truth just as absolute when pragmatically compromised to suit the individual?

Is truth about your own beliefs what you hold sacrosanct? What happens if your truth is completely the opposite of another?

Is truth the definitive premise of a personal moral code? Is it why those individuals who possess (and practise) an ethical code of conduct are more highly respected?

Why does telling and revealing the truth often hurt, both the teller and the receiver?

Does being truthful create greater equality in the community?

Is truth equal to trust? And that in order to make judgments of any kind, particularly financial, we need to trust that we have been told, and sold, information that is true.

Can a free society function without standards of truth that are the cornerstone of democracy? Truth sets the standards of human decency, reinforced by laws and justice.

Free, open democratic societies, ours included, enshrine a constitution that protects the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, conscience, expression, assembly, discrimination, protection of the law and so on.

The question that begs to be asked is — doesn’t everyone welcome knowing the truth? It is statistically proven with financial facts that operating in the transparent ethical light of day is extraordinarily financially successful for an economy.

And how do we tell and know what is true?

We can just feel that truism — or deception — in our bones, our very being, thanks to our millions of years of embedded survival instincts. What does not feel right is most often not right.

We can take it upon ourselves to do our own independent research on persons, platitudes, and promises to obtain the real truthful facts. There is no excuse today with the access to powerful search engines on the internet.

Journalists are providers of the truth. They don’t action the truth, they simply report the facts — the truth of any information for a free society.

Professional journalists adhere to a code of ethical principles of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability — as these apply to the acquisition of newsworthy information and its subsequent dissemination to the public. What is it about the truth that is so powerful, so threatening, so downright destabilising for those who do not embrace a moral code?

Isn’t it true that those who do not honour the truth, put their own self-interests above everyone else’s? From minimal evasions of the truth to flagrant violations of society’s moral code, they will do just about everything in their power to suppress the telling of the “truth of the matter”.

Why? Because anyone: among them whistleblowers, auditors, accountants, and particularly journalists who reveal the truth of crimes against the community can bring the malfeasance and the perpetrators involved to the public — and the law — for judgment.

In the end, power and control is always about money. And who pays? Ordinary people, the majority who see good, want the truth, believe in public accountability, conduct themselves as honest citizens.

Supporting truth-telling and justice is so important. The press may not be liked, sometimes may be highly unpopular, but without these necessary truths, checks and balances, a country and its people will eventually face the erosion of civil liberties and fundamental personal freedoms — individual rights that have always been taken for granted.

Sadly, a journalist, mother, spouse, just an ethical professional doing her job — was murdered this week. Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Maltese journalist, was killed by a bomb that exploded under her car in her home country.

She is one of 30 journalists murdered this year alone and more than 810 journalists murdered since 1992 according to the Committee to Protect Journalists*.

How can civilised people possibly even countenance such an evil thing?

History tells us differently. Even so, the truth can never be suppressed for ever.

No one, but no one should ever be killed for telling the truth.

“There is nothing so powerful as the truth. God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it.”— Daniel Webster, United States senator and Secretary of State in the 19th century.

*Source: Committee to Protect Journalists — every year, hundreds of journalists are attacked, imprisoned, or killed. For more than 35 years, CPJ has been there to defend them and fight for press freedom. CPJ reports on violations in repressive countries, conflict zones, and established democracies alike. A board of prominent journalists from around the world helps guide CPJ’s activities, Read more at https://cpj.org/about/

Martha Harris Myron CPA, JSM, Masters of Law — International Tax and Financial Services, is a personal finance columnist for The Royal Gazette. Her e-mail address is martha.myron@gmail.com