Religions and other well-coiffed social efforts tend to disdain and discourage lying, but when push comes to shove, I wonder if the truth, whatever it may be, could be revealed even in the best of circumstances. Anyone can lie, but can anyone actually tell the truth? I don't know.
Williams may be squirming after entering the news spotlight he is accustomed to shining on others, but his 'betrayal' of public trust hardly strikes me as unusual or even especially reprehensible in the world of agitation-and-propaganda he inhabits. He, like any CEO or individual, might wish to be believed and accredited, but which is more sensible? -- believing or disbelieving? Am I wrong or is trustworthiness/ethics these days based more on a majority sentiment and less on any verifiable fact?One of America's most famous news anchors has apologised after a story he repeatedly told about coming under fire in Iraq was revealed to be untrue.NBC's Brian Williams said he was on a helicopter forced down in 2003, but veterans have now disputed his account.
Is truth as touted merely a matter of public accolade? If my ethics are bounded by a cheering public sentiment, does that make me moral? Is it lying or not to use words like "misspoke" when referring to lies? Is sincerity an excuse worth heeding? And if, by chance, a liar were to reverse course and lay his cards on the table, would that then imply he was telling the truth?
Don't get me wrong -- I do not intend to promote some slick, self-serving cynicism that doubts and tears down at every turn. I am not a Republican. But I am interested both in the willingness to tell lies (as I have) and the inability to stop doing so. Relativism is a cheap date.
As a delicately genteel nudge from the past once had it:
I love myselfI say so unabashedly: I prefer the truth. I do not like liars. I say these things without much investigation: Let's face it -- it sounds good and I like the warm nods and accolades that saying so may elicit. I freely admit that lies are some of the best implements when it comes to winkling out the truth. But into that stew, if it's to be worth a shit, I feel compelled at add the spiciness of, "OK try to tell the truth without lying. Go ahead! I D-double-dare you!"
I think I'm grand.
I go to the movies
And hold my hand.
I put my arm
Around my waist.
And when I'm fresh,
I slap my face.
Naturally, I can bring a hundred excuses to bear when it comes to lying: Everybody's doing it, so it must be OK; it's for the greater good; I forgot; it's a kindness; the dog ate my homework; I am sincere; I want to be a good person; I screwed the pooch even if I cannot know who or what the pooch is ... etc. etc. etc.
I guess Mark Twain had it about right when he said, "There are lies, damned lies and statistics." It's such a rich and nourishing field that I can hardly imagine anyone's putting the plough back in the barn.