Truth. Is truth absolute or relative? After a day of being harangued to change my answer from a simple statement of the facts to a response that people wanted me to give, I realize that there are differences of opinion about this.

Here is the situation. Tenants in a rental property Nancy and I own would like to purchase a home. They are nice people and they have generally paid their rent within 30 days of when it was due. When they have fallen behind, they have caught up within a few months. I would consider them to be relatively low credit risk. So, when the people representing them for a bank loan contacted me, I told them exactly that. In fact, I took the time to look up the tenant records and gave the loan processor the precise data and I added a personal word of endorsement.

However, the bank form asks, “Number of times rent has been more than 30 days past due.” This seems like a straight forward question and my answer was a positive number. However, the loan processor and the tenant want me to enter zero. They believe if the number is anything but “0” that the bank will reject the application.

During the afternoon I received several phone calls during which I heard appeals ranging from “these guys are nice people, we really want to help them realize their dream of owning a home where they can raise their family” to “do you realize that if you keep them from getting this loan that they will loose their house, the people who are counting on them to purchase the house will be stuck, and there will be a domino of ramifications after that?” There was also an attempt to redefine what “30 days past due” meant. Through all this interaction, I was made to feel like I was a lesser person because I was holding up the loan process. I tried to explain that it was not my fault that my records (verified by the tenant) indicated that the tenant was more than 30 days past due at least one time. They seemed surprised that I was unwilling to “simplify the entire situation” by saying the number is zero. It didn’t seem important to them that, in fact, the number was not zero.

For me, truth is the actual statement of fact. The loan processor, the tenants, and I agree that because the tenants are nice people and generally pay within 30 days, that they deserve a home of their own. I would like to help them achieve this dream. However, this dream doesn’t change the “facts.” The facts remain the same regardless of the circumstances and ramifications.