August 30, 2012 by William K. Wolfrum
I have spent some time gathering my thoughts about this post, which is the 3,000th* at this blog. I have a penchant of thinking too large when it comes to blog posts, anyway, but I allowed myself to be thrown off by the monumental faux landmark of a round number. Thus, I have spent hours staring at an empty page, waiting for some great truth to come to mind.
My sister-in-law is a fantastic young woman. Kind, accepting and focused on the needs of others. She is beautiful in all aspects of the word. When she was a child, however, she was a monster. As has been described to me, she was a hyper, dirty, aggressive little liar.
Then, one day out of the blue, she decided she would not lie any more. She would be an honest girl. She remembers the day fondly, as it was her first step toward becoming the gentle, honest soul she is today.
The only problem, of course, was that it took several months for anyone to believe anything she said, regardless of her new-found honesty. Her family had heard enough lies over the years to distrust her, and it took them a while to accept that she had truly changed her ways.
We are all liars in one way or another, whether they are little white lies with good intentions, to lying to ourselves, to telling massive whoppers in front of millions of people.
The Internet and social media has been a grand experiment in lying. Think of your own social media experience. Given the ability to craft our own realities, many of us present ourselves in the most glorious of lights. I know that I generally present myself as the person I aspire to be rather than the person I truly am.
Mind you, minor misrepresentations of oneself is generally harmless unless meant to deceive for nefarious reasons. But it seems to lead to a more complicated issue of lying to oneself. The best road toward personal growth depends on being honest to oneself, not covering up the uncomfortable areas with a facade.
A Nation of Liars.
The current election cycle has been a grand experiment in lying. While it is true that President Barack Obama can massage a fact with the best of them and will avoid certain truths, it is Mitt Romney who has created an entirely new paradigm for the definition of truth. Not only has Romney been caught in numerous outright lies, he – along with running mate Paul Ryan – have crafted their own life stories. While this can be harmless fun for someone with a Twitter account, it becomes surreal when two lifelong millionaires create life histories that showcase them as blue-collar folks who had to scrimp and struggle to get to where they are today.
Add to that a media so often loath to even challenge many lies politicians spout, and you create a nation with an extreme crisis of confidence. Who is to be trusted to be truthful? Who can even tell any longer.
The truth of the matter is that the United States has become a nation of beliefs and faiths. It is a nation of competing ideologies that has put aside the truth in order to garner victory big or small. The Personal Truth is far more important and satisfying than the true truth. This is not the sign of a healthy civilization.
When you have an elected official saying that women have a natural defense mechanism against rape, you are most assuredly on a dangerous path. When science is considered an enemy that must be belittled, or when nearly all facts become objective, a nation’s reality becomes hopelessly unrealistic.
Every American generation is coming into a nation where lying to get what they want is more and more acceptable. Evolution – a Truth – works with psyches as well as physical organisms. And the changes come much more quickly when they are changes in attitudes and ethics. As time goes on, even those that espouse the greatest truths will find themselves in my Sister-in-Law’s youthful position – distrusted due to a history of lies.
Much greater minds than I have delved into the subject of truth and have come away with wildly different interpretations. These words are not meant to define truth. They are not meant to call out the lies. If anything, they are a message to myself to have the courage to view myself and the world with honesty. Because the words of the Great Bard are as true now as when they were originally written:
“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. ” — William Shakespeare.
*Actually, that’s a lie. This is post No. 3,001. I forgot about the round number and posted a dog picture. But what’s the harm of this little lie, I ask?