Whats Wrong With a Little Lie
"It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may express it so, that mental lying has produced in a society. When men so corrupt and prostitute the chastity of their own minds as to subscribe to their own professional belief, things which they do not believe, then they have prepared themselves for the commission of every other crime." Thomas Paine from " The age of reason."
Today in America, the lies are far less dangerous than the excuses we advance on behalf of those who lie to us. Dishonesty is, obviously, necessary to politics, to corporate industry or to individuals who would bend, distort, alter or omit, any part of a truth in order to sustain a gain. Gain is obviously a noble endeavor when clothed in moral fabric, What happens, however, when gain alone becomes the guiding light? When dishonesty and lying become so pervasive that a society can not distinguish the truths from the lies. Then we become a nation where "what we do" is governed only by "what we want" or what we want to hear. When "who we are" is better measured in "what we have" rather than "how we got it". We are then prepared " for the commission of every other crime".
" Those who think its o.k. to tell white lies, eventually become color blind." Austin O"Malley.
Individuals have employed dishonesty for gain since the dawn of time, however, for an entire society to bask in the indifference of its public exercise and to acquiesce to a cultural display of blatant untruths, not only blinds our collective eye but it corrupts our collective hearts.
The advertising and marketing industries excel in the distribution of half truths and shades of the truth with such proficiency that we have simply come to accept their unprincipled practices as business acumen, shrugging aside it's effect upon our lives. Corporations engage legions of lawyers and accountants, not to report the honest disposition of their achievement, but to advance the unbridled exercise of securing from legality and loophole, as much questionable gain from their enterprise as their collective conscience can bear. They engage in the ambiguous language of exaggeration and understatement, create off shore accounts, off shore subsidiaries and off shore inventories that are transferred from country to country until any tax liability is swallowed up in the shift of goods and monies. Financial institutions are wrought with the disease of gain by any means and their contractual acumen is wrought with volumes of microscopic print that increase the gain by instituting hidden fees, penalties, charges or confiscation.
The trillions of dollars confiscated from the American public is forgotten and instead, our economic ill is shifted to the drain of an incumbent poverty. Those who were little match for the volumes of unfamiliar mortgage contracts, which must have read, like a medical journal to 5th graders, trusted instead the piranha that came to feed upon their ignorance. Any complicity in the staggering losses imposed upon the market by the thousands of unscrupulous thieves that decorate our industry, was at worst, rooted in the naive ignorance of people grasping for the American dream and subdued by those who had a grander, more disingenuous agenda.
We plant our children in front of television commercials that weave and stretch truth as though distortion was something to be celebrated, measured not in increments of truth, but in increments of sales. Our media has evolve into a monster that views truth as an impediment to the ratings war. They infer, imply, insinuate, hint and suggest, all in the free and legal exercise to distort by omission, because their real intent is to create drama, to incite our emotions and hold us hostage to an entertainment that captures our interest more than revealing any truth. Truth is evolving into a commodity whose inherent value is traded openly in the market of compromise. Its relevance is measured only by potential for gain. We don't call their lies, lies anymore. Now the lies bears auspicious terms like alternative facts or fake news.
"No man can purchase his virtue so dear, for it is the only thing whose value must increase with the price it has cost us. Our integrity is never worth so much as when we have parted with our all to keep it." Ovid
This is not a truth dependent on the repetition of word or write. This is a truth which should be ingested by every man, written upon the tablet of his heart, buried in his soul and clung too as though it were part and parcel of his very existence. We as a nation have become socially acclimated to the dishonesty of our institutions, perhaps more frightening, we have come to expect it. In our indiscriminate tolerance, however, we become complicit because we are silent. We are silent because we have come to believe that if it serves our agenda or the team we subscribe too, then it is less deplorable. It begins with the little lies and feeds upon our silence until lying becomes the accepted language of our time.
" The long habit of not thinking, a thing is wrong, will eventually bring the appearance that a thing is right." Thomas Paine.
We are as a people, the keepers of our liberty, the individual proprietors and guardians of the truth. It can not be distorted with out our consent. Regardless of the institutions which come to bear upon us, honorable men should not be persuaded to believe things which deep inside they do not believe. Truth is not determined by a majority nor by the clamor of popular opinion. The truth clings to us. It lingers deep inside making us uncomfortable when the lie comes and begs complicity. As a people we must come to recognise the ill associated with all the little lies because they come to prepare a way for bigger lies.
When trouble and disillusionment befall a nation, those who seek the gain will throw us a bone to distract and occupy our concern. The bone diverts our attention and gives us enough to chew upon until they throw us another bone. Today, the bone is poverty. We are told that the poor are an imposition and a scourge upon our economy and that our ill is proportionate to their ever increasing numbers. There is much truth to such a proposition, but, it is far from the whole truth. We are told that entitlements are stealing our wages and that we have created a welfare state. So we turn our attention to the ruckus in the cellar while those in the upper room reap bonuses and bail outs to protect their fraudulent acquisitions and insure their future stability.
Honesty will reveal innumerable encumbrances to the disposition of our endeavors. It will certainly find just cause in the collective cost of poverty upon this nation, but that same honesty will reveal a greater poverty in America if we decline the bone they throw. We will discover a moral poverty that steals more than food stamps and medicine. There we will see the moral fabric of a great nation being set ablaze in the name of individual gain. There they steal our equity, our investments, our retirements and wash it down with scotch and water. There they threatened us with the collapse of our collective economy and steal from us our lives and dreams. There they advance a new lie to cover the trail of lies that came before.
In the cellar of our society the poor turn silently from pointing fingers. They are once again the bone that distracts. Wolves will always live in proximity to the sheep. That is where they feed. Their voracious appetite will keep them there. The wolves will decorate their den in tapestries woven from the fabrics of free enterprise, capitalism and the American way, because, we will not question the very fabric that represents the dream that we, ourselves, toil and labor for. They disguise themselves as, "we the people" and tell us that they, themselves will keep a watch, from their lofty perch over the marauding sheep who are ravaging our meager fortunes.
When they fall suspect, they show us the uncovered bones which, according to them, were found in the sheep pen. The sheep are ravaging the American dream and the wolves can prove it! We may well destroy the sheep, but, we will still be left with the wolves and when the sheep are gone, where will the wolves turn to feed?
I suppose in the end, we must ask, what drove our half hearted search for the truth? Why do we like the lie? Perhaps the lives of wolves are more attractive than the lives of sheep. In pursuit of the American dream. who wants to accumulate friends in low places? It is, I suspect, better for us all, if the sheep are really to blame. After all, if it is the wolves, then we must ask ourselves, why we fed upon their lies. Is it that we ourselves believe that the lie is necessary to keep ourselves from the sheep pen?
It does not matter what other men will say of us, it matters of honest men, what we will say about ourselves. If we examine the cellar we will find enough of the lie, but, I fear it is no more than we will find in country clubs, board rooms and corporate suites. Lying is what we do, although it travels with a more palatable signature the higher your station in life. Disguised as clever advertising, marketing, omission, no comment, reliable sources, my sources reveal, or simply, I heard or I read. We bend the truth, we stretch it, we manipulate it and we manufacture it, all to lend acceleration to an agenda that will not move fast enough to get us what we want.
Lying a little can help our gain without the encumbrance of a moral fabric, from individuals, from business, from the media, from corporations and from our politicians. Somewhere along the way the responsibility of conveying truth has shifted from who is speaking to who is listening. We are told that we must look for the truth in the midst of all the deception and flailing mumbo jumbo that spills into everyday conversation. Now we must spend our time fact checking. Wouldn't it be easier on us all to simply become honest men?
If we are to right the ship we must learn to do more than tell the truth; We must insist on it from those that serve our interest. From media and corporate America, from clergy and government, from gain or loss. It must become the irrevocable and incontrovertible principle upon which conversation is built. The final goal of everyone's business is not gain, it is honest gain. Anything less is not a gain at all, it is moral loss and that is a loss that all the money we have will not restore. If the T.V. lies, turn it off or change the Chanel, If the church lies, find another church. If our politicians lie, get a new ones, If business lies, put them out of business, if advertising lies, buy a different product and if we lie to each other, then we must get new friends. If we do nothing, the lying will not go away. It will consume us and in the end, we will not know that we have been eaten!