Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive. – Sir Walter Scott
As a boy, I was lucky to live next door to my grandfather. He called me Buddy, and I called him Buddy. Everyone in my extended family called him Buddy after that. If I had to sum up my beloved grandfather in one word it would be – Honest. My granddad was born in the backwoods of Kentucky. He was a farmer, drank whiskey, chewed tobacco, and spoke plainly with the honesty of a hardworking man who lived truthfully. That was the lesson I learned from him – be honest and people will respect you as a person with integrity. Integrity is supposed to be an important element of society. But sadly, that is not always so.
For most of my adult life there has been an assault on basic truths. Modern education is founded upon the search for truth. The earliest usage of Truth comes from Old English and is related to “good faith”. Faith is related to trust, and is an even more ancient word. The origins of trust are rooted in protection and comfort. To feel comfortable we have to feel our lives are being protected by trusted people and institutions. And unfortunately the fabric of my adult life has repeatedly been torn at by greedy people grasping for power for far too many years.
These days, the assault on truth has increased exponentially, but this has been going on for decades. In the 1980s President Reagan’s Chief of Staff was known as a Spin Doctor. Reagan, who was a Hollywood actor, said many outlandish things and gave rise to an entire industry of spin doctors who produced tidbits of half-truths call sound bites. The first use in print of spin doctors came in an October 21, 1984 New York Times editorial:
“A dozen men in good suits and women in silk dresses will circulate smoothly among the reporters, spouting confident opinions. They won’t be just press agents trying to impart a favorable spin to a routine release. They’ll be the Spin Doctors, senior advisers to the candidates.”
A half-truth is the most cowardly of lies. – Mark Twain We all feel in our bones that some things are indisputably true. Truth exists. It must exist. Integrity and honesty should matter. It is one thing to present something in the best light possible, but it’s an assault on reality to use: BS doublespeak, weasel-words, non-denial denials. These are lies plain and simple. Even the word lie has been replaced with words intended to hide the lie, such as disingenuous – not honorable. A person is not called a liar – but weasel-words phrases are used like he’s being disingenuous. We all know a lie, and we all know the sting of calling out a liar. The goal of doublespeak and propaganda is to obscure, disguise and distort reality. To hide the truth. But that does not change the fact that some things are TRUE or FALSE.
We are being assaulted daily by sellers of alternative realities. This distortion of truth wears down our collective faith in our shared reality. That is the goal of liars – to try and alter reality. But Truth matters. And the ultimate expression of Truth is being true to yourself. And that is the very definition of Integrity. First, look inward to guard against being deceived by falsehoods. Know the truth. Tell the truth. Let truth be your guiding light. Day and night the Truth is there for you to see. In the words of the Buddha, Three things can not hide for long: the Moon, the Sun and the Truth.
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