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Whats Wrong With a Little Lie

Updated on April 12, 2017

"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!


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    • Jellybird profile image


      8 years ago

      There is nothing I can add that would be as profound as your hub Thanks for it.

    • arb profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from oregon

      You are right crystolite! thanks for the nice comment

    • crystolite profile image


      8 years ago from Houston TX

      Nice article.Really interest me a lot.Actually, dishonesty is not a crime in our generation as a whole i think something serious really need to be done very fast.

    • arb profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from oregon

      Hello Genna! Thanks so much for perusing my elaborate annoyance. Amen, indeed! I pray an awakening and a return to things that matter, preferably someone besides our pursuit of me-gratification. Still awaiting another Genna edition of needed poetry. Be well, Genna! :)

    • arb profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from oregon

      Wallowable, is the appointed medicine prescribed by my inner self. I will come back to the link and indulge myself. Be well dear nellieanna! BTW I got the Japan thing out of my innards and am now feeling the funnies coming on. :)

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      8 years ago from TEXAS

      Thank you, dear Alan, for the wonderful replies. I had torn myself from the computer to do some actual work and resolve an actual question requiring a phone call. Then when I returned, I became distracted by your mention of my Dutchman page and Attic & decided to check them out. It gives me much pleasure to visit my ranch country and the folks who populate my Attic. However it doesn't get me onto my house chores and the time is shrinking between now and when my company arrives. ;-| I'm working on it; not nearly enough, though the easy stuff is all but done. But am THINKING and strategizing all the time. ;-)

      Thank you for those kind words. It is nice to be appreciated. It's my privilege to know you and to have your good opinion means much to me, I assure you.

      Certainly there's a big difference in being an individual and being selfish and self-serving. Frankly I don't know who anyone CAN be but himself or herself, personal individuals and aware of who oneself is. Each of us is responsible for that self, keeping it going and being constructive. We have our duties to our communities, too, which can be a mixed blessing, since communities, like individuals, can get off on the wrong track. When that happens, we as individuals must assert our individual options to either foliow along like sheep or step out of the beaten path and stand up for a better one. I'm afraid that the current combination of self-centered me-ism along with sheep-like following to gratify it has overtaken that of the strong individual who does contribute to the community but never without questioning when its path runs amuck.

      Yes - the nation's founders had the highest motives and wrote up a constitution designed to keep them uppermost. Of course, times and requirements to meet challenges evolve & must be responded to, so future amendments were provided for, - practical, well-intentioned ones, surely, but also they provide more loopholes, more vulnerability to interpretations with other motives in mind, which may erode the real intentions for our country by its founders. This has surely happened at times.

      One July 4th, I made & published a page about the Declaration of Independence. It has audio, too (if your computer allows it, it is worthwhile to hear) of narration by men speaking as though participating in the actual event, discussing it in the manner of that time. It almost gives me goosebumps. Hope you can hear it as well as see it, if you have time to browse. Either way, there is a copy of the actual document as well as a more legible transcription @:

      I apologize - was supposed to write something less serious and wallowable. But there is a time for everything, right? :-) I will come through, yes I will! ":-) Hey - that one looks like a little salute! I accidentally made a new (if left-handed) smiley!

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      8 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      "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 winning the ratings war"

      Amen, amen, amen! Arb, you took the words right out of my mind and mouth. IQ's are plummeting, and thinking is numbed by waning standards and short-sighted me-myself-right now gratification; the truth and real “news” has been sacrificed for ratings and drama.

      Excellent hub.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I am counting my good fortune to have, yet another comment from nellieanna! Thank you for such a kind compliment. Reading comment from a to z you may very well be the most beloved person on hubpages and I count it my extrordinary privilege to come to know you. Integrity is the missing ingredient today and we would do well to study the men who wrote the constitution instead of what it promises us. Integrity was what they wore to confront their days and not simply something you see in movies. I wish you a day worthy of your exhuberance!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Dear nellieanna, Thank you for your brief reply. I do love them, I have so much more to respond to and am therefore more able to feel as though we enjoyed a visit together today.

      You are right, of course you make such a habit of that, that a lie lives because it needs two. One to feed and one to eat and as you noted, we are all to willing to take our fill. We are a nation espousing individualism, bu, I think we confuse it with me-ism. Individuals would stand up an be heard, fight against the lies and demand fixing not a bone. Individualism is not a badge we buy down at the dollar store, it is the stuff we were once made of and we are finding it easier to follow aimless leads. I am so aware of the complexities of our problems today, but, the hubs I encounter seem to espouse another aimless direction, drawing on an emerging anger and distracting us with a bone of a different flavor.

      I shall keep my distance, for a while, from things that steals my humor. Perhaps I will visit your flying dutchman hub and rummage through your delightful attic. Maybe I will take my dog and walk another wooded trail that misses my trepass. If I want to find my sense of humor, however, I will have to study my wife and the world which she inhabits.

      You are such a welcome to my seriousness, it does always bring a smile. My cold is buried beneath my stubborness and proves itself a worthy adversary. Be well nellieanna and write something which I can simply wallow in.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      8 years ago from TEXAS

      By the way - I wanted to add "no wonder you're so beloved" but my short time to edit that previous long comment ran out. (blush) But since I was also thinking how much I respect your choice of the word, INTEGRITY, I hope I will be forgiven for coming back to add a postscript. This is such a lovely word which, to me, has come to mean being integrated, whole and is a personal goal.

      I just looked it up and, sure enough, the definitions say so much about what is lost but direly needed in our country, in our world and in every human being who helps to comprise those entities:

      integrity |in?tegrit?|


      1 the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness : he is known to be a man of integrity.

      2 the state of being whole and undivided : upholding territorial integrity and national sovereignty.

      • the condition of being unified, unimpaired, or sound in construction : the structural integrity of the novel.

      • internal consistency or lack of corruption in electronic data : [as adj. ] integrity checking.

      ORIGIN late Middle English (sense 2) : from French intégrité or Latin integritas, from integer ‘intact’ (see integer ). Compare with entirety , integral , and integrate .

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      8 years ago from TEXAS

      We believe lies when and because we prefer them. We prefer them when we think we will get something out of it. Being honest with ourselves is the first and most major step in refusing to believe others' lies or self-delusions.

      We have but to just think of what it is we buy into. It is promise of benefits to ourselves, and no matter how preposterous, people eat it up. Thinking one can buy a $300,000 house with an annual income of $40,000 or less dollars is pure self-deception. That there are greedy money-lenders willing to exploit it is almost inevitable - because their tactics work and they DO benefit from the ploy. What is amazing is that the government (whom we supposedly choose) is in on it! People may have to do some really painfully honest soul-searching and buckle down to a lot of self-discipline if anything is to be done about the mess. Of course, buying into the lying promises has weakened the wills, fattened the guts and led our nation into both illness and hypochondria. That is part of the agenda, no doubt. A weakened sick populace lulled into expecting to be coddled and taken care of is more unlikely to arise from the stupor, think clearly enough to see through the scams and take charge of its own responsibilities. But those are the first requirements for righting the wrongs.

      Yes - a society has become disabled by self-gratification enough to "bask in the indifference of its public exercise and acquiesce to a cultural display of blatant untruths" - because those promised the society more than they earn with virtually no penalty or payoff. No one wants to face up to the fact that nothing works that way except for those exploiting this gullible greed and hypocrisy.

      Alan - thank you for this clear mandate: "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

      You've written and amassed an urgently needed and fitting treatise here. I, for one, appreciate it and you for your strong sense of reality and urgency.

      How true - humor seems inappropriate now. However, one of my most effective tenets is that one must maintain balance to remain an effective human being, so please don't abandon your full range of wonderful thoughts and writings, my dear friend. Hugs and smiles, even if a bit wan. Hope your mean old cold has cleared out.

      Thank you for feeling this redress demanded and following through.

    • arb profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from oregon

      Hi Jillian. I would rather spend my time in humor, but I keep encountering hubs that demand redress and I only have one way to do that. Hopefully I have it out of my system. Now, however, I am captured by the the devastation in Japan and do not feel like humor. Be well and I am so glad that you enjoyed this piece. Be well.

    • Jillian Barclay profile image

      Donna Lichtenfels 

      8 years ago from California, USA

      Dear Arb,

      First, you hook me by making me laugh and giggle like a kid! And then, I come back for my drug of choice and find that your words are just as awesome when you speak of man's very soul.

      Wow! Of all you have written, this is the one I will read again and again!

    • arb profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from oregon

      Good morning my friend. The worse part of it all is that they know that we know, but, until we say no more, they will use what works. Be well, Mickey.

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      It's pretty obvious and shameless. It's getting much worse. Or maybe we're just more aware of it. Awesomely beautiful!


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