Or allow to be told. (I’m on the rambling again.)
When I was younger, I had a bad habit of lying. Sometimes big ones, mostly small ones. It wasn’t always safe to tell the truth when I was growing up, and so the lie became, for me, an act of self-protection. Once I matured and realized the damage that lying inflicts, I resolved to repent (change my mind, literally) and not tell lies anymore. Not even white lies. Because I also learned that the ‘safety’ of a lie is, in itself, a lie. There is no safety for anyone in deceit. Deciding to not tell lies anymore, one must commit to constant diligence with one’s word and that requires constant self-awareness. Telling a white lie is soooo easy and so widely accepted. This commitment requires brutal honesty with oneself and constant self-awareness. One must also be brave enough to admit to whatever wrong might have been done that would create the misguided need for a falsity.
I’m contemplating the phenomena of lying in our cultures. Or more appropriately, I’m contemplating truth in our cultures. Do we live in a time where the attachment of a bond or the making of a compact with one’s word is not common practice? Did we ever live in such a time?
It seems to me that we live in a culture where we easily allow truth to be consumed in debate. With ease, we allow the conversations to be stitched up by ‘free speech’ and ‘right to opinion’. A statement was recently made that there is a right granted to certain people to disagree with the facts. I don’t necessarily disagree with that statement, if one is bringing honest to goodness facts to have that disagreement. Do we know what facts are anymore? Do we know what truth is anymore?
A politician makes a statement, a promise, and if the politician is a good person with good morals, they do their best to keep the promise as an act of good faith. A good politician understands that the dimensions of humanity to which they are responsible is diverse and multi-faceted. Telling the truth and engaging in honest discussions of facts is a huge responsibility, even for a politician.
Human language is creative. It is also destructive. We possess the ability to build and tear down worlds with every word we speak. The words that come from our mouths are not artificially generated, but come from our souls, our hearts, our minds. Our word is a bond, a compact we create and agree to. We are free to use those words in whatever way we deem necessary, but there is a responsibility tied to that freedom. One must be willing to accept responsibility for whatever consequences result from the freedom to use one’s words. When a politician becomes a public servant, the seriousness with which they offer their words ought to shift to a higher level. A politician as a candidate is somewhat freer from the responsibilities that a President or a Governor acquires upon swearing in to their position.
When do we call a lie a lie? When does a statement shift from an unintentional reference to facts which are not provable to an outright deceit? Is intention the guiding force for judging whether someone’s words are truth or lie? The twisting of language, shifting from the use of a particular word in one statement and replacing it with a different word in that contradictory statement is the difference between unintentional misleading and felonious deceit.
What is the remedy for socially accepted lying? When I see someone stand by and support the deceitful language and actions of a person or an organization, I immediately wonder if there is anything that comes out of their mouth that can be trusted. If one is so keen to stand by language that is not factual, at best, and outright deceitful on the other end of the spectrum, what can be gained from having continual discussions with this person? Do we not aspire to teach our children to not lie? If so, mustn’t we set the example for them by not lying? Shouldn’t we model for them how to achieve truth? Should we not model to them how to take responsibility for the damage untrue words can inflict?
If those who are leaders refuse to give up the mantle of politician and accept their responsibility to truth, we must set that tone. We must find our way to creating a good world with our honest words. The consequences of the words we speak, if we fail to follow after truth, are monumental.
I think a tactic we need to improve and strengthen, as a society, is being able to find truth. Even in a deceitful statement, there is truth. It may not be the truth that someone expects it to be, but there is truth. As an example, a statement was made recently about the new proposed health care bill. The statement said something along the lines of “everybody is going to be covered. everyone is going to benefit”. There is truth in that statement, if you understand the psyche and intention of the person making it. Everyone and everybody does not mean the same thing to the person making the statement as it means to perhaps the general public. The person who made that statement only counts a certain segment of society as belonging to this group of ‘everybody’. It doesn’t literally mean “EVERYONE”. When we are able to pull out the truth, we are able to tackle the deceit.
I can’t make another person give up the practice of continual deceit. I can make my house stronger by committing to being honest in all things. I can make my soul stronger by refusing to allow my words to be spoken in a deceitful or harmful way. I can commit to seeking out the Spirit and teachings of Kiche-Sabe (Sasquatch), which call humanity to honesty and truthfulness. What I do for my house and my soul radiates out, I hope.