Blogs by David Arthur Walters
This Lying World
2/10/2010 9:09:07 AM
We are taught to lie at a very early age.
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 respect even though we have good reason for disrespect. In that respect, we are taught to lie for our own good.
The small child soon learns about the justice of, "To each his own." If the child is good, he should enjoy good results, and, 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, they are lying hypocrites. Yet the child had better not charge his parents 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 considered to be bred best are so persuaded by their upbringing that their own nature is evil that they have concluded, in order to excuse their own misconduct, that every human being is originally evil. Of course that too is a lie. In fact, the babe was born innocent, and the stone was first thrown at him by his creators. But never mind: we must show respect towards and even applaud the generally recognized authorities if we are to have our way, even the elected authorities we have voted for who prove themselves to be the greatest of all liars - to impeach them would be to impeach ourselves.
Our world is a lying world, hence when some sage tells the lie that the world itself is a big lie, that it is a fabrication woven by maya, an illusion concealing the truth which the fakir is of course privileged to know, we want to believe his self-contradiction even though we know it is a bald-faced lie. Some statements are in fact true in this world. For example, it is a deniable but obvious truth that the world outlasts every individual. Yes, the things of this world pass away, but many of them have been around longer than the human race, and they will still remain after its extinction; nay, even after the extinction of the Sun; for instance, gold. The whole wide world is not vain and empty as the sour-grape eaters say. We are the ones who are vain and empty. Our lies are vanities. If the secret were out, the emptiness of the liar would be understood.
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 good 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 - 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. The scientist above all wants accurate and reliable information. The physicist who lies about natural phenomena and natural laws would soon be proven wrong in a civilization freed from the big lies propagated by superstitious religious and political systems.
Yet in the moral sphere, where immeasurable quality or ideal values take precedence over measurable quantity, it is said that no absolute objective standard naturally obtains, and that any necessarily arbitrary social standard imposed denies 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 or on the idea that human history is the progressive liberation of individuals from authoritative social control, whereby the power or liberty of the few elite is gradually diffused or replicated among the masses who 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. 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." The truth is the best standard over the long haul. And by truth I do not mean it in the metaphysical context of the question put to Jesus, "What is the truth?" I mean it in the existential sense, that of the inner truth we know when we lie, the true knowledge that we are liars and deceivers, that we have joined the camp of wicked demons.
Humans 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: the small child first finds its freedom and its separate identity in that secret place within where lies are forged. Which is to say that the person is a lie or a mask for the actors whom the Greeks termed 'hypocrites.' We also hear that lies are a form of camouflage upon which the lives of virtuous people depend. And if everyone told the truth about what they thought of each other, the world might be wracked by violence in which untold millions would die in orgies of mutual mass murder. There is even more good which has been claimed for the evil of lying, but never mind; suffice it to say that 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. But we can hardly help ourselves. A man resolves to tell the truth one day, then, the very next day, lies to get or keep his job.
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 would be flooded with homeless people. It takes a great deal of courage to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. Especially when the misleaders in high offices and those who want want to replace them are pathological liars. Yet I for one do not think the world would fall apart if the truth were told. I believe it would be a better place to live in.
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More Blogs by David Arthur Walters
Grasping Aire - Tuesday, February 16, 2010
This Lying World - Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Metaphysical Nothing - Saturday, February 06, 2010
The Subject - Friday, October 30, 2009
The Natural Man - Friday, October 30, 2009
Life is Becoming - Friday, October 30, 2009
The Helium.com Scheme - Saturday, May 09, 2009
Time is a waste of time - Thursday, October 16, 2008
Bank Run - Thursday, September 18, 2008
cHaNGe - Friday, September 12, 2008
To Hell with CHANGE! - Monday, September 08, 2008
Ms. Bloghog Strikes Again! - Friday, September 05, 2008
Change - Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Note on the Nature of Mysticism - Sunday, October 21, 2007
Native Americans - Saturday, April 28, 2007
Fascism is not a rational ideology - Saturday, April 21, 2007
Self-Certainty and Self-Doubt - Friday, April 13, 2007
Arguments - Thursday, February 08, 2007
Absolute Faith - Thursday, January 04, 2007
Faith In Nothing So To Speak - Tuesday, January 02, 2007
the little hitler in everybody - Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Saint Paul & Thomas Hobbes - Friday, December 08, 2006
A Unique Coincidence - Saturday, December 02, 2006
Paul's Success Was a Miracle - Monday, November 27, 2006
Prophecy Old And New - Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Thought For Food - Monday, October 30, 2006
Paul Ricoeur’s Personal Anthropology - Friday, September 15, 2006
What's Happening? - Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Actor and Patient - Sunday, July 23, 2006
Something Happens to Her - Thursday, July 20, 2006
The Fact of Consciousness - Saturday, June 17, 2006
Fact as Event - Saturday, June 17, 2006
Sensation, Perception, Conception - Saturday, June 17, 2006