From The Journal of Hypocrisy
We are taught to have good manners at an early age. For example, we are to show respect for our parents and elders, or else. We must show them respect even though we disrespect them and have good reason or doing so.
One of the legendary primordial emperors of China was born into a poor family. He had the worst parents in the world, yet he showed them respect. Because of that and other virtues, he was appointed imperial councilor, married the king's daughter, and was eventually named emperor even though his blood relation to royalty was quite remote. The legend emphasizes his virtue, and erroneously states that he had no royal blood in his veins. Such ritual virtue has saved the lives of many abusive parents over the ages.
The small child soon learns about justice. If the child is good, he should enjoy good results; if he is evil, he should suffer evil consequences. But the authorities are unjust; they do not mete out rewards and punishments fairly, nor do their deeds match their words: in fine, too many of them are lying hypocrites. Yet the child had better not charge his elders thus: "You are liars! You are hypocrites! You are evil!" No, ma'am, the child had better lie or at least keep his mouth shut, for silence is golden. As he matures, he must perfect his hypocrisy. He had better be a hypocrite on a daily basis, or else. Or else he will not be loved by his family and friends - love means overlooking the faults of the beloved. Or else he will not receive good grades and receive his diploma. Or else he will not get a job, or, if he does, he will not be able to hold it for long.
Moreover, the child is taught not to throw the first stone. He is taught that he is a sinner too. In fact the ill-bred authorities who are supposed to be considered well bred are so persuaded by their upbringing that their own nature is evil that they have concluded, in order to excuse themselves, that every human being is originally evil although they themselves are better than most. Of course that too is a lie. In fact, the babe was born innocent, and the first stone was thrown at him by his creators.
But never mind: it seems we must show respect towards and even applaud the generally recognized authorities if we are to have our way in some matters; we praise even those elected authorities we have voted for but who soon prove themselves to be the greatest of all liars – lying is a bipartisan activity. Misdemeanors in lowly offices correspond to high misdemeanors: to impeach the elected hypocrites would at the same time constitute a silent impeachment of the majority for wanton negligence at the very least, for a careful examination of the candidates would have exposed the awful truth about them in the first place. Yet, after they are exposed, the majority is silent and the demonic crew remains in office by public default; thus does the impeached majority stand convicted of its leader's high crimes. Nevertheless, there is cause for hope, for the truth is still mighty potent in the good minds of a democratic people. We are not Saddamized Iraqis: our constitution provides for non-violent revolution, wherefore we can proceed in good conscience to overthrow evil governments to save a good state.
Our world is a lying world, therefore when a sorry sage tells us that the world itself is a big lie; that it is a fabrication woven by Madame Maya; or that the world is an illusion concealing the absolute unmitigated truth about the one and only Reality, which the sagacious fakir, whether he be a dervish, sadhu, or master illusionist, is of course privileged to know; - we would believe his self-contradiction even though we know it is a bald-faced lie.
Of course many true statements are in fact made in this world. For example, it is an obvious truth that the world outlasts every individual. Yes, the things of this world pass away, but many of them have been around considerably longer than the human race, and they will endure long after its extinction, nay, even after the extinction of the Sun; take gold for instance. The whole wide world is not as vain and empty as the sour-grape eaters say. We are the ones who are vain and empty. Our lies are vanities. If the secrets were out, the scandalous emptiness of the fraudster would be duly exposed.
Indeed, there are universal laws physical, mental, and moral. Einstein did not say that truth is relative hence one truth is as good as another; nor does the theory of relativity validate the doctrine of ethical relativity, that one good is as good as another because there is no absolute Good. No, the theory of relativity supposes that universal law holds true no matter where you are and no matter how fast you are going. Of course the theory of relativity is still being tested, but so far so good; the evidence bears it out. As for the constant, the same results may be obtained by all who care to duplicate the experiments. The speed of light in a vacuum is generally accepted as a constant of about 186,282 miles per second because that speed has been repeatedly measured in several different ways; other electromagnetic phenomena, invisible to the naked eye, have about the same speed. Time is not the standard; time is relative to the constant, the speed of light. The scientist wants accurate and reliable information. The physicist who lies about natural phenomena and natural laws would soon be proven wrong in an honest world.
Yet in the moral sphere, where immeasurable quality or ideal values take precedence over measurable quantity, it is said that no objective standard naturally obtains, and that any necessarily arbitrary social standard imposed would be in opposition to the essential freedom of human kind, a freedom supposedly rooted in the subjective or anarchic individual unit that would, god-like, endure forever without impedance if only it could. On the other hand, the individual is a god spelled backwards, and a cattle on the way home. There are natural laws that regulate human association along the way and make of the individual unit a social person.
But this is not the occasion to expound on the freedom-in-order dialectic, nor on the idea that human history is the progressive liberation of individuals from authority, whereby the power of the elite is gradually diffused or replicated among the masses, who, in turn, somehow become a great global herd of liberated individuals. What concerns us here is the lying along the way.
The modern science upon which our technological progress depends relies on a skeptical search for the truth about things, not on habitual lying. Yet lying is so pervasive in our culture that we shrug our shoulders and overlook it, or insist that it is necessary and therefore a good thing instead of an evil thing. And that is a terrible mistake in the long run. There are a few universal laws in the moral sphere. A nation of liars led by pathological liars will not last long. It has not been that long since the Eskimo name for "white man" was "liar." Honesty really is the best policy over the long haul. Truth is the standard to which the best persons adhere. We speak here of truth in the existential sense; for example, the inner truth that we feel when we lie, knowing that we are liars and deceivers and that we have joined the camp of wicked demons.
Humans are said to have always had cause to lie in certain situations and to justify lying when caught in lies. Lying is quite natural, say the received authorities. Some even claim that lying is the very essence of human liberty, that the small child first finds its freedom and its independent identity in that secret place within where lies are forged. That is to say that the person itself is a lie, a mask donned by the actors whom the Greeks termed 'hypocrites.' We also hear that lies are a form of camouflage upon which the lives of virtuous and innocent people depend. And it is suspected that, if everyone told the truth about what they thought of each other, our world would be wracked by violence in which untold millions would die in orgies of mutual mass murder. A great deal of good has been claimed for the evil of lying, but never mind; suffice it to say that too many liars think the evil of lying is in getting caught and prosecuted.
Still, most people have a feeling that lying is wrong, immoral. If we are to do our best in the world, we think we should know the truth about it, that we should, like every scientist, want reliable information upon which to make a decision. Yet we cotton to a culture that rewards lying and punishes honesty. Not that we want to lie or go along with the lies. Not that we want to be wicked and to excuse ourselves with evasive talk about gray areas and ethical relativity and transcending good and evil. Gray areas certainly appear; but there are black and white areas with a void in between; yet we claim black is white and vice versa, and we know we are lying. But we can hardly help ourselves. A man resolves to tell the truth one day, and then, the very next day, he lies, say, to get a job or keep his job, or a woman, or some other thing he values. A man may even be caught lying for no other reason than to give the impression that he is somebody instead of just a nobody.
The caption below the jail cell states, "The truth shall set you free," but if the truth were told today we would have to build even more prisons and our streets might be flooded with homeless people. Confound it, it takes a great deal of courage to tell the truth and nothing but the truth; especially when the misleaders, and those who want to replace them, are pathological liars. Yet I for one do not think the world would completely fall apart if the truth were told. I believe it would be a better place to live in. What say you?