Sunday, June 1, 2014

Parsing "You Have Been Lied To"

     There is a recently retired political figure (whom I shall refer to hereafter as the "Old Doctor") who is fast receding from public memory.  He is receding from public memory because who, after all, cares or remembers much about anything before last Monday, in the United States of Amnesia? We are, after all, thinking more about 2016 already.

     Now I happen to think that the Old Doctor said many interesting, truthful, and thought-provoking things;  but among one of his best and most useful statements was this:

     "You have been lied to."

     Before we dismiss that as a quickie-clever political remark, or a mere one-liner or slogan, let us try to parse it for its possible meaning.  It could mean any or all of the following:

     1.  "You have been lied to" by authority figures that you thought you had every right to trust.  You thought that they were (and that they themselves actually felt) honor-bound to tell the truth.  They could have been government officials, school teachers, authors of respected books, statisticians, employers, professionals (like doctors, lawyers and judges), policemen, even pastors and parents.  You were told to respect them and trust them.  And because they seemed upright and full of good will and had your best interests at heart -- you still do trust them.

     2.  "You have been lied to" by people who, to be honest, you had plenty of reason and evidence to doubt.  You had reason to know that they were shallow, or dishonest, or simply mistaken -- but you bought their snake oil anyway.  Or their flimsy answers, or their cheap solutions, or their self-serving viewpoints, or their outright fantasies.  And now you are heavily invested . . . 

     3.  "You have been lied to" by you, yourself.  You told yourself things because you wanted something.  Stuff, perhaps.  Or you developed a fantasy about how things "ought to be," and decided that that wishing it were so, somehow made it so.  Let's pretend.

     We could go on, but you get the idea.

     Now, supposing for a moment that, for any one of the foregoing three reasons, the Old Doctor was right in his diagnosis of the cause of certain, shall we call them, generally, societal or personal problems.  "You have been lied to."

     Should we perform some personal self-examination and see if we might discover which of our current ailments had specific lies as their cause?

     One device might be to take a long look in the mirror and, while looking ourselves in the eyes, ask ourselves:

     Have I been lied to by people whom I trust?  Have I allowed myself to be lied to by untrustworthy people?  Have I lied to myself about myself, my expectations, and the situation around me?

     For those who look to the Holy Scriptures for guidance,  I offer these selections:

Type 1 lies.  The lies of false authorities.

      And many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many.

     For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.  -- Jesus Christ

Type 2 lies.  The lies of the con artists.

     . . . evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them.

     But evil men and imposters will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.  -- St. Paul

Type 3 lies.  The lies that you tell yourself.

     The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked:  who can know it? -- the prophet Jeremiah

The solution.

     When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

     You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.  -- Jesus Christ

     A lot more could be said, and should be said.  But this is a good start.

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As always, comments pro and con are welcome.

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