could radical honesty help America to become better
The morning after the first presidential debate, I noted that one of the television stations did a litmus test on the truth and dishonesty in some of the statements both candidates uttered during the face off. The commentator went through various examples of each candidates statements and compared those statements to the facts as they are known. The examples of turn abouts on what they had previously said or statements about so-called facts that were either exaggerated or played down measured more than a handful for each. However, the commentator said that based on their news rooms analysis, the "untruths" were not very substantial and that both sides were about equal in the fibbing department.
I find that fact that the major party candidates for the most powerful office in the world misrepresented the truth, as they had uttered it before or as they know it, to be outrageous. Yet the people on the television seem to just take it as business as usual, not upset about it or willing to tell the world that these men had deceived us.
Okay, maybe I am naive, but isn't lying something that upsets people anymore? Or has it become so common place that we just accept it? Our society is obviously sick if that is the norm.
I'm not sure this lying syndrome is just a phenomenon of the media age as some people would say it is. Since the innovation of radio being able to carry messages into people's homes, however, lying has seemed to become more and more a part of the American existence. Not that there weren't a lot of lies before that; people may complain about slanted newspaper coverage today, but just go back to old archives of any paper and you can see the obvious bias that existed long before the electronic media. Today it is often more subtle, but it is obviously still there.
I often laugh about how the media compares us with those who lived in the past. As I have mentioned before in a column one of the things that bugs me is when they talk about the "simpler" lives people lived in the "old days." Another is when they talk about those living today as being "more sophisticated" in our thoughts process and views. I'm not sure what that term really means when they use it that way, but I think it is a way of saying that we accept things today that wouldn't have been fine with most people in past times. in some ways that is good. We seem to have developed a broader range of thought in accepting other people as individuals and as groups. But there are certain things, in my book, that have not been very good in that shift of perception. One of those is accepting the fact that "spin" or "disinformation" is all right.
I recently read some writings of a man named Brad Blanton. Blanton has written a number of books including a series called Radical Honesty and a book that has come out in the last year called The Truthtellers. He says that lying is a learned form of self governance, He says it is used to control others and in our society has become a way of survival for many. Blanton says that honesty in all things would turn everything around. He says that even small lies denigrate people and our attitudes about what we will and won't accept.
Now I don't know if we could go too far with this, because in some situations the total truth could be sticky at times. If a wife asks her husband how her hair looks before they go out on the town and he said it looked terrible, they might never get out of the house. The reverse is true too. If my wife actually told me how bad a carpenter I really am, although we both know I am not very good (and that is a vast exaggeration), there could be some big trouble as well (throwing fits, cussing, saying I never do another thing on the house, etc.)
However Blanton says that honesty begins with each individual and I agree. Politicians who lie to us constantly because of agendas, pressures and of course, money concerns, are only a reflection of what we accept. And what we accept as individual citizens is based on how honest we are in our daily lives.
So maybe the cure to all this presidential nominee lying is that we, as individual citizens, need to start unlearning lying ourselves. We worry constantly about our freedoms being eroded by laws and lawmakers, yet maybe the biggest freedom we have lost is the freedom that comes from being truthful and the integrity that comes with it.
If we can learn to tell the truth about our ourselves, maybe then we can demand that those that lead the country, or those that want to ascend to it's leadership, need to do so too.