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To Tell the Truth: The Tale of Roger Clemens

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“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
-John 8:32

We always want to believe people, at least I know that I do. When someone tells me something, I like to think that person is being honest. We hope that this will carry over to our children because kids tend to lie, sometimes often, and if they learn the truth is better than lying early on, perhaps they will not succumb to this childhood malady consistently and then fall deeper into the truth-less abyss later on.

Who knows the truth about Roger Clemens? I am not saying this on a superficial level. We fans of baseball only know that. We certainly don’t know Roger, just as we don’t know Alex Rodriguez, David Wright, Mark Sanchez, Eli Manning, and all the other sports figures out there. We think we know them, but we only know what is presented to us: the persona that has been honed as the marketable entity that comes across on the field and in interviews.

I’d like to think that the person who knows Roger best is Roger. Perhaps his wife and children would fit in there, then his friends, his teammates, and so on, but the only person who truly knows Roger is Roger. It is like that for all of us. We live our lives, though surrounded by people, ostensibly alone. Within our own minds and in our own hearts, we know the truth of truths. No one else knows everything we know. No one.

If you are like me, I want to believe in the essential goodness of each human being. I want to believe that everyone has a good heart, but as reality slaps us in the face again and again, we understand that is not the case. People who strap bombs onto their bodies and walk into crowded places are not good. People who harm innocent children have no goodness in themselves. We realize that there are many fine people, but that bad ones exist and, even if in their hearts they see themselves as heroes, we know that is because something has warped their ability to discern reality.

Roger Clemens says he looks forward to telling the truth. His former trainer Brian McNamee says that he only told the truth. Andy Pettite told his version of the truth, and he will likely be the key witness in this whole thing. Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Jose Canseco, and many more told their truths as well. It becomes a he said; he said: my version of the truth verses your version of the truth. Who can prove what? How far will it go into a person’s inner sanctum? What consequences are there if somehow or other the facts are presented that your version of the truth is false?

In this case, if Roger Clemens lied, he did so under oath. Again, in my naive world, I like to think that if you raise your right hand and place your left hand on anything – the Bible, a stack of baseball cards, or even The Wall Street Journal – that you have now committed yourself to truth telling. A lawyer friend of mine joked that lying under oath happens all the time. Whew! There goes my faith in the system, but then again it becomes the court’s duty to decipher truth from lies. My friend says good lawyers can pick away at the veneer of lies and get to the truth. Hmmm..

Whatever happens to Roger Clemens is going to happen. I have heard reports claiming that he could get anything from thirty years, to thirty days, to a suspended sentence. I can tell you this, and I’m saying this as a Met fan, I don’t see any good coming from Roger Clemens staying even one minute in jail. What will that prove about the system and about lying? What will that teach the kids who look up to sports figures? Nothing, if Clemens goes on and still claims he told the truth, was wrongly accused and incarcerated, and then comes out and writes a book about the whole thing and makes even more money, he stands to be more of a folk hero than anything else.

I think what has to happen is a concerted effort toward truthfulness. If Roger can tell the truth, kids might think, maybe I should too. Yeah, I did take that pack of gum from the store. Oh, I did lie about not having a test tomorrow. I did break that lamp, Dad. Sorry. Like that’s ever going to happen, right?

The problem is that lying is all around us. People lie and famous people make a career out of it. In the world that is professional sports and in the everyday world the rest of us know, people lie and that is never going to stop. Sadly, something like this only reinforces the convictions of those who lie to push the truth even deeper into that despicable me. It becomes a “No one will ever know what I know!” kind of thing.

None of us will ever know Roger’s truth; the question is does Roger know the truth, or is it so far down and covered with camouflage stories that even he doesn’t know anymore?

Jesus said, “The truth will set you free.” Maybe Roger should try it and see how it feels. Hey, maybe we all should.

 

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About Victor Lana

Victor Lana has published numerous stories, articles, and poems in literary magazines and online. His books In a Dark Time (1994), A Death in Prague (2002), Move (2003), The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories (2005) and Like a Passing Shadow (2009) are available online and as e-books. He has won the National Arts Club Award for Poetry, but has concentrated mostly on fiction and non-fiction prose in recent years. He has worked as faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with Blogcritics since July 2005, has edited many articles, was co-head sports editor with Charley Doherty, and now is a Culture and Society editor. He views Blogcritics as one of most exciting, fresh, and meaningful opportunities in his writing life.