Honesty is such a lonely word

In a recent discussion on MSNBC a good number of the panelists seemed to agree that lying to a corporation is okay. Some even view it as a positive:

“If a lie is being told to a corporation, it’s not really a lie,” Neblett  quipped, shortly after calling a lie about qualifying for the discount “a noble  lie.”

Lying to a corporation is certainly easier, but okay, even noble? They were discussing how Amazon’s parent discount is essentially on the honor system, and that some people are lying about having kids in order to claim a discount they don’t deserve. Many of the panelists thought it was perfectly okay. What are we coming to? This urge to redefine everything in our favor cannot bring anything good; lying is lying is lying. If we cannot trust one another to tell us the truth our basic societal fabric begins to fall apart. This is not hyperbole, it’s the truth.

Think about it. It’s pretty much assumed these days that politicians lie. But if someone is assumed to be a liar, why would we elect them? Because some lies are okay, so long as they serve the greater cause? But if we’re excusing all these lies so that “the right people” can get elected, then why is it Congress suffers from the lowest approval rating of all time and the President’s poll numbers are the lowest of his tenure? Are these people getting the job done? Are they really the “right people”? Is the reason why we have such gridlock in Washington is because they all know they were elected because they’re good liars, and therefore they can’t trust each other? If the quickest way to tell if our political class is lying is “if their lips are moving”, it can’t be easy to get anything done trying to work with these people.

One of my children is (hopefully) learning a lesson right now that you can only get away with dishonesty for so long before people start to catch on. This child is now experiencing the results of a loss of trust as everything they do is monitored. Even past actions are being re-evaluated in light of this change in trust. This child is going to have an uncomfortable life until trust is restored.

But increasingly in the world outside my front door lying is barely even noticed, let alone punished. More and more the default mode for most people is just to assume that the other person is lying. It’s not paranoid, it’s just being safe. The idea that lying in pursuit of some cause is okay will only serve to intensify the problem. Everyone has a cause they’d be willing to lie for if they thought they could get away with it. Do the ends really justify the means?

It seems more and more these days the only people who get into trouble are those who tell the truth. As the Phil Robertson hubbub recently revealed, people would rather you lied or kept silent, and there are people waiting to pounce on you if you dare to tell the truth about what you believe. Al Gore couldn’t have chose a more appropriate name for our age when he named his documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”.

Honesty is inconvenient these days, even dangerous. Safety lies in lies. Pardon me if that’s not the world I want to live in.

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