Monday, September 10, 2012

A Truth Tsar

I’ve told my share of lies, more when I was a child than now. But when I did,  it became increasingly offensive to me, like an odor about myself, just as embarrassing to me, as it would be to anyone around me. I don't tell lies today, well, maybe an occassional fib now and then.  But the problem is that I’m not the only one who does it. Lying is almost common these days. It’s a stink in our society that is as prevalent today as honor and truth-telling were to our ancestors.

I do try to be truthful (I promise), in my blog, in my conversations, in my correspondence; even in my fiction, I try to write from the heart as my Freshman English instructor suggested all those years ago.

But if you think about it honestly you’ll realize we are surrounded by lies on a regular basis: lies, exaggerations, untruths. It makes me wonder: is it an attribute of human nature or is it merely a very bad habit that we’ve allowed ourselves to sink into and don’t really think much about it anymore?

I used to think that people lied because of money. After all, many lies are for money: the scams across the Internet are manipulating the elderly and the unaware for money. Preparing our annual tax returns, 75% of the population will try to use tax dodges, any scheme at all in order not to pay their fair share.

Commercials are filled with lies – why? To sell more product.

What about the law? Lies, lies and more lies, not just by witnesses, but by attorneys in order to win their cases (and their fee). The Law is filled with tricks which allow the guilty to go free (most recently the story of the ill-fitting glove and O. J. Simpson).

Job applications – are we always perfectly honest about our attributes or do we exaggerate our experience in the work force, our education, sometimes even lying about our age and birth circumstances, just to get a job?

The Press (both electronic media and print) - how they’ve been allowed to make lying a legitimate exercise and create the news that is not news, or de-emphasize reals news so that it can be found as an after-thought on TV or on page D9 in the newspapers. This is our fourth estate – we own the air-ways and yet we allow one or two major conglomorates control our media as though we lived in a third world country. Money is the cause of this as well. Powerful interests depend on prominent spots on tv and in print. I don't want to imply there are not great and fearless journalists out there -- there are.  I'm just saying, there is a trend to manipulate the  news to one's own advantage.

Politics - may be the greatest arena for lying and here is where my earlier theory flounders. Politics is rampant with lies. But many politicians are rich, filthy rich, even. So why do they lie?

In politics, it’s not just money, it’s power. But money is power, is it not? In the case of the rich guys in politics, it must be different; they’re not seeking money because they’ve already got lots of it. They’re seeking power, but if they have money, they already have a certain amount of power. Whatever it is they are seeking, they will lie to get it.

Lying has become acceptable. Just as lack of responsibility has become a way of life. If you do harm to someone, a public apology (usually only after the harm is discovered) is all it takes to be forgiven. What happened to responsibility? Retribution? Atonement? They are unnecessary because the liar has already been forgiven as the result of a wimpy statement of apology which in my opinion, is meaningless. A public apology in this world is merely a way to get back in the game after a suspension.

I don’t know what the remedy is. Maybe what we need is a “Truth Tsar.” (I've become my own) -- someone to take the place of all the fact-checkers out there that only check the facts for their chosen party, thus allowing only the "facts" that suit them.  .

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