Searching for integrity in the world, is like searching for unexpired chocolates in my house. It’s hidden, buried deep in the abyss, under an Everest of calorific proportions. Each layer of darkness is a lie, wrapped with more lies and unravelling them is becoming an impossibility when they’re mixed with half truths and complete inventions. I’m talking about the Pinocchios of the world there, not the perpetual lack of unexpired chocolates in my house, though both unpleasantries are true; one is damaging for our society at large whilst the other is probably in the best interests of my health.
We complain about not knowing who or what to believe when it comes to the government, politics and the media. We protest against those in power for not upholding the values yet we frequently don’t question ourselves and our part in sustaining a society of liars. It starts with a fib, you get away with it, you tell a bigger one; it’s the Pinocchio principle. And we’re at fault for not demanding better standards from even within the circles that we ourselves move.
I read a quote from Yasmin Mogahed yesterday that said:
“Our leaders can be an external manifestation of what we are inside. Sometimes a nation has a racist president because there is deep, hidden racism in the hearts of many people.
And sometimes we are ruled by pharaonic tyrants because we have yet to tame the Pharaoh within. We may not be Pharaoh’s to a nation, but are we Pharaoh’s in our homes, our workplaces, our mosques?
Remember God says, “Indeed God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is inside themselves.” (Qur’an 13:11)”
The politics of power
Noam Chomsky, the great political activist, political scientist, philosopher, rare upholder and standard-bearer of truth, recently gave an interview in which he shed to light some huge disparities in mass media publications and the truth in plain sight. As an example he sites how the BBC has become part of the western propaganda machine in America’s portrayal of the dark and sinister threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear armament. He points out that America is actually the only country in recorded history to have used nuclear arms to proportions so damaging its effects are still felt in the Far East, where people still suffer from defects at childbirth, people still bear the scars of chemical warfare, lost limbs and irreparable damage to multiple generations. America remains unaccountable for its reprehensible actions yet stomps it’s muddy feet about as though it’s a shining beacon, an example to all.
The example that Chomsky cites is that North Korea and China have both publicly proposed a moratorium on nuclear armament if the same can be agreed by America and South Korea. You stop, I stop. Sounds fair, right? Yet the BBC, a supposedly impartial and truth reporting conglomerate, is hiding a truth that is in plain sight. The reach of the BBC is far and wide, yet commentary on the threat of North Korea and their refusal to disarm or arrest their nuclear arms programme is void of any mention of their proposal to stop quid pro quo. The BBC commentary spins the story in favour of the American agenda and paints North Korea as an unwielding villain yet the truth is reported from various other news outlets in plain sight.
The manifestation of corruption in society is a direct cause and effect of mass populations divergence from upholding the truth.
It is frequently said that you get what you put out. Put out good into the world and you will see it come back to you. What we are seeing unfold in front of us these days is a manifestation of what emanates from us as a global society. We need be the change we wish to see in the world. If we wish to see a change in others, we must first demand that change within ourselves, otherwise we are nothing more than well meaning hypocrites. The truth can only be upheld if we each take responsibility for upholding our end of the bargain and it doesn’t need to extend to participation in politics but speaking the truth ourselves, so that we can decipher it in what we read, watch and listen to in the media.
“Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea by reason of what the hands of people have earned so He may let them taste part of the consequence of what they have done that perhaps they will return to righteousness” (Qur’an 30:41).
Lying is a form of self harm
I have come to find, that it is usually the people who deceive others the most that struggle the most to decipher a truth from a lie. Frequently it is a lack of education and a lack of knowledge that breeds ignorance within our societies but it is also what people put out themselves. You get what you put out.
Those lies that they barter their truth for come back to harm themselves for they then cannot distinguish between a truth and a falsehood.
What if one day you find yourself unable to decipher a truth from a lie?
Lets talk about fibbing, lying, deceit, inventing stories.
Why do people lie?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because it just makes me sad thinking about how many people I’ve caught out telling a lie and thinking I or others have bought it. I can’t tell them directly. I’ve tried once or twice before but Pinocchio isn’t a child anymore and he doesn’t like it when he’s accused of telling fibs. When you try to expose their falsehood in a jokey way, they assert the lie even more and bolster the original lie with more falsehoods. Like applying a band aid to a gun shot wound. It just gets worse and worse and worse. It’s cringeworthy to watch. I want to tell you to stop, but you’ll think that the lie was a necessary evil or the lesser of two evils. You will do just about anything to justify yourself because you’re selling the lie not only to others, but you’re selling it first and foremost to yourself. The more you embellish the lie, the more you convince yourself of it. It becomes tasty, delicious even, to accept the falsehood and the fantasy over this truth and reality.
Why are you doing it? I’ll tell you why. It’s because you’re insecure. You think if you tell your friend that the real reason you’re late to meet them for breakfast is because you stayed up until 3am watching Blackfish, the documentary about the captivity of orcas and so you overslept (ahem, true story), your friend will abandon you or at best think less of you. So instead you will say that you were up all night sick or just tossing and turning for no reason or that you were late because there was a family emergency or there was traffic or roadworks. The list of possible “or(ca)’s” is endless.
We all sin differently but lying I just can’t stomach; no matter how small it is, you’re disrespecting the framework of friendships and working relationships, you’re sabotaging the foundations of trust, you’re making us question everything you say because your commitment to the truth is as brittle as glass. One small lie and the glass shatters. And whilst all it takes is one lie, the pieces of shattered glass take so much longer to repair and even once glued back together, it no longer holds its perfection, it will always bear the cracks of that one lie. So why do you do it, Pinocchio? Doesn’t it tire you that you have to remember what you said? It’s so much more liberating to not have to remember what you said if you stuck to the truth in the first place!
Your insecurity is harming you and the society we live in. Stop lying.
Social media perpetuates a society of liars by encouraging us to apply filters to our lives, document only the happy moments and conceal or tamper with the hardships and the worst part of it is that we don’t even realise we’re doing it! We are taught to think before we speak but we don’t extend this lesson to the lives we portray via social media.
We are crumbling inside our lives but we hide behind a screen showing an alternative fantasy we try to convince ourselves we are living and when we get likes for our posts we feel validated, we feel like the picture we’re painting is accepted and if others accept it, then we can momentarily accept it ourselves.
Lying is a disease of the heart and mind that affects no one more than the perpetrator. At the root of a liar is an incredibly insecure person who can’t accept themselves or the inherent human condition that compounds us all: that to be human is to err, that flaws are an inherent component of a human being and nothing to be ashamed of admitting and that it is in admitting our flaws where we find humility and the direction for self improvement. For a long time I thought the reason people lie was because of arrogance, I thought it was pride, I thought it was ego and I felt offended that someone could insult my intelligence. But now I realise that they’re not insulting me at all, they’re only insulting themselves because they don’t have the confidence for candour, they don’t have self belief to be true to themselves and thus cannot be true to others.
If you lie, you’re only knocking yourself out in the ring. I’m offended no longer. But these habits of telling even the smallest of lies have to stop because they are manifesting themselves in society at such an alarming rate and scale that we are damaging humanity as a whole, one pretty little lie at a time.
“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”
– Lao Tzu
If we all took heed of Lao Tzu’s words, perhaps as a society we could create a ripple effect that expunged our society of liars and corruption. Perhaps, as Yasmin Mogahed expresses, the advent of professional liars becoming our leaders is a manifestation of society at large – we become capable of electing to power such ethically devoid characters into the arena of mass people management that it is an indication of the low grade quality of our society at large.
If to be human is to err and you find yourself unable to admit to any wrongdoing or flaws, consider yourself in a pool of corrupt politicians, outside of what is considered to be behaviour befitting the human label.
Geppetto created you to be better than this, Pinocchio.
(G = God, P = People)