Friday, January 18, 2013

Prevarications, Obfuscations, And The Outright Lies

They lie to us. If not overtly, then through omission. They seek to manipulate us, to drive us to adoration, or to fear, or to desire, or to action, but they do it through manipulation. They act upon the predilections we already harbor, or they pound into us a continuous stream of doubt, or simply repeat the words backed by a seeming surety and sincerity that resonates with us.

But it is all lies.

They want to convince you that they are clean, free of the taint of evildoing. They want you to believe they are right, no matter what the evidence says. They want you to trust them, though their behavior leaves you with a funny feeling in the pit of your stomach.

They are the poltroons, mountebanks, jesters, and megalomaniacs that exist at the edges of society, seeking to use their wiles to manipulate us into giving them what they want: power, money, respect, obedience, obeisance. They flit around us, walk among us, and meander through us, spreading their miasma of incoherence and insensitivity, which clings to us like an unseen coat, poisoning our faculties. We want to believe them, have to believe them, find it difficult to break from their penetrating gaze. We create a veneer of respectability around them that hardens into an armor that deflects even the most pointed queries about those parts of their behavior that trouble us.

We find them in business. We elect them to government, We elevate them in the celebrity parade. We kneel before them in houses of worship. We cheer them in sport. We surrender the natural power of our own intellect in their presence, allowing them to dull our senses and bypass our reason. We want to believe what they say and do is true; oft times, we simply surrender to that belief despite all evidence to the contrary.

Judge not, lest ye be judged, but that does not mean we must suspend all judgment. It means we should not simply place people and things into neat boxes without ascertaining the truth of them. It means we must suspend our innate desire to measure every thing against what we believe and be willing to accept those facts brought before us, irrespective of belief. We must be willing to bend, to narrow the number of absolute codes we carry with us. It means we must not allow ourselves to be so easily led or fooled by those who wrap themselves in the trappings of those things we trust.

The lie is not the thing, for to lie is as easy as telling the truth. It is the intent behind the lie that matters. We call upon the "white" lie to prevent the discovery of a surprise, to spare feelings, to cover a thousand minor infractions in our life, and very rarely can it be said to be harmful. The lie that harms us is the lie told as truth, the lie cloaked in fact, the lie embedded within a web of other lies, the lie built specifically to prevent us from knowing the dark purpose behind the lie. The worst of the lies is that which is coated in officialism, that is "true" because the speakers says it is true. When you have looked to someone as trustworthy, when you have invested in them a tremendous level of respect, when you have marked them as important, the lie they tell breaches your defenses and is deposited in the deeper recesses of your mind, to sit, to fester, to grow, to ensnare reason in the tendrils of deceit. The mind, so swathed, refuses to push back, and reason is choked off.

Not everyone is a liar and not every lie told is intended to do damage, but those that are, when coupled to those figures we deem important, carry tremendous destructive potential for our society. When placed in positions of power, venerated as heroes, imbued with the rank of their office, they can build barriers against the normal forward course of society, attempting to roll it back to beliefs and superstitions and nonsense that previously caused human society to totter on the brink of self-annihilation. Worse, still, they can make it seem that to do as they did or to speak as they spoke carries an air of veracity, that from their lips the words gained truth simply through being said by them.

The lie is perpetuated because it is left unchallenged for those who choose not to apply any discrimination to it. Where facts are rejected out of hand, where belief is stronger than reason, where fame outstrips normality, the lie suffers no damage to many, even where those outside it can support their contention that it is a lie with reason and evidence. There is no comfort in knowing that so many of our fellow human beings in our society choose to simply accept the lie uncritically, content to back in its shadow.

This is the critical point, like so many before now, where we must face down and gear up against the lie. Those in the reasonable, thinking majority of us can no longer stand idly by and let the lies go unchallenged, no longer put up with our fellow citizens and the rank hypocrisy they bathe in. Pull them kicking and screaming we must, out of the dark mists of Middle Age thought and into the 21st Century age of reason. Until we rise up as a mass and proclaim reason a more fit way of providing peace and liberty to all, we will suffer the indignity of ignorance and play with the fire that still threatens to consume us all.

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