RESCUING THE PLANET – Part 2

March 20, 2011 at 5:48 am Leave a comment

Continued from part 1: https://truthandsurvival.wordpress.com/2011/03/19/rescuing-the-planet-%e2%80%93-part-1/

HOW TO STOP LYING

By RALPH DOBRIN

Excerpts from his book “How to avoid Armageddon”

Available through Amazon

Click: www.amazon.com  type: how to avoid armageddon

Interestingly, every society claims to hold the qualities of truthfulness and respect in high regard. All over the world, people teach their children to tell the truth and to show respect for others. At least that’s how it used to be before cable TV, computer games and DVDs led more and more people to lead individually segregated lives – each member of the family cooped up in his or her own room glued to a screen, with a whole generation of children hardly conversing with other members of their families, and in most cases, learning a lot less about common decency than previous generations.

But even before this drastic change in family dynamics all over the world, the lessons in truthfulness and respect were usually bound by certain cultural and social conventions. Throughout the world, aspects of history, religion, the perception of public figures, and other issues were always modified, extirpated or even rewritten in accordance with what the ruling classes deemed appropriate. In many countries even the most elementary forms of respect were not shown to members of certain races or social classes.

Also, parents lied to their children. They lied about fairies, Father Christmas and how babies were born. These stories were regarded as harmless white lies, meant to raise a smile on their children’s faces, while the inane explanations about storks and cabbages saved the parents from embarrassing revelations. Many of the fibbers were normally decent folk, who would have been shocked to realize that they were actually lying to their children, so very precious to them.

While most of us have fibbed from time to time, ordinary, normative folks don’t habitually lie or exaggerate unduly – even those who tell their children stories about fairies and Father Christmas. But there are occasions when most of us do lie, or are tempted to lie, like for example when we are expected to make a comment about someone’s cooking or appearance. When visiting friends or relations for dinner and the hostess might ask us whether we are enjoying the casserole that she served up. “Oh yes, thank you,” we might reply even if it tastes and feels like burnt rubber and is almost impossible to swallow. Or we can simply terminate the ordeal by lying about toothache or indigestion. It’s a form of value judgment that we have to make. Either suffer while masticating stoically, or forego the food and risk offending the hostess. Which is worse: to lie or to hurt someone? A third alternative would be to tell the truth tactfully: “I’m not partial to this kind of cooking, thank you,” will be better than telling the hostess outright that the food is terrible, which would be churlish. And anyway, maybe your hostess and her family really think that the casserole is delicious.

The reason why telling the truth, albeit tactfully, would be preferable to lying outright in this case or in all similar cases, is that lying is a habitual thing. It starts with white lies and fibbing for expediency; it includes slight exaggeration for the sake of embellishing stories; in time the exaggerations get bigger and we begin to lie about a wider range of topics. We become habitual fibbers and then untrustworthy liars. And liars are usually found out sooner or later.

But apart from ruining reputations, lying is not a good basis for harmony in family life, career advancement or business. It’s true that in the short term lying can be very expedient. Many people have made fortunes through lying and deceiving people. Perhaps on an individual basis this has boosted their bank accounts, enabled them to acquire luxury possessions and property, and attract partners for romantic encounters. And quite possibly some of these manipulators manage to conceal their dishonesty and shady dealings for their entire lives.

But the purpose of this book is to foster truthfulness for the good of all society and humanity. In any dynamic framework – whether it’s family, club, organization, business, political party or government administration – a spirit of truthfulness engenders mutual trust. This reduces any cause for mutual suspicion, which is often time-consuming, energy-sapping and a serious constraint on cooperation. Truthfulness engenders the smooth flow of information. It promotes mutual respect and comradeship. Truthfulness, as we have mentioned in earlier chapters also enables more intelligent decision-making. All these things together create a far more efficient, productive entity. Clearly, it is the most important value for humanity to learn and promote.

So, the trillion-dollar question is: how do we promote truthfulness?  To a large extent it’s a question of creating a trend, a shift in norms. It needs the involvement of all who understand the issues and realize the stakes. We must also remember that the initiative will seldom if ever come from any government body. Any constructive official participation from a public or government source would of course be very welcome. But the initiative and involvement needs to come from individuals in each community – people who lead their own personal lives according to the conventions of truthfulness. School principals and teachers in kindergartens, primary and secondary schools must drive home the paramount importance of truthfulness in their classrooms. Parents must do this in their homes.

There should be seminars on the subject for teachers and all public workers. Businesses should be encouraged to function with optimum truthfulness and transparency. Government officials at all levels should be made to realize that the public, imbued with the spirit of truthfulness itself, will not tolerate the slightest breach of honesty. Religious leaders can play a significant role.

A manual of truthfulness needs to be published in every possible language and millions of copies distributed. Stories for children of all ages emphasizing honesty and dependability must appear in book and comic form as well as in movies and computer games.

Most of us eat, drink, sleep and observe certain basic rules of hygiene. If we fail to do any one of these functions we will be in serious trouble. Clearly, these are all important aspects of our lives. Truthfulness should be added as an indispensable link to these vital functions. It should become an ideal – like good health and appearance. It should be recognized that the only way to do anything properly or to solve problems in a way that will be mutually most satisfying, is through honesty. Indeed, people should know that the best way to avoid problems in the first place is through honesty. And people must develop zero tolerance towards dishonesty – first and foremost in themselves, then with their families and friends, as well as with anyone else, including workers in shops, offices and technicians and repairmen. This call must also be focused on the politicians and national leaders everywhere.

Actually, all this might sound axiomatic. All societies claim to abide by such an outlook, even those that customarily accept as a matter of course, shrewd underhandedness in matters of business and other relationships. Among the vast majority of people everywhere, the level of truthfulness wavers from time to time, depending on the circumstances. As we have mentioned earlier, laziness, wishful thinking, or conforming to a prevalent view or trend, can lead most honest folks into a mode of falsehood – as purveyors of it, or as receivers. Another major factor in lapses in truthfulness among decent folk is often caused by strongly identifying with a particular religious, ideological or political line. We tend to lose our objectivity. Perspective becomes obscured by wishful thinking or bias, or both and that can confound thinking – leading to decisions with unfortunate or even tragic results.

Pointedly, the state of the world is in far too critical a condition for us to allow that.

To order “How to Avoid Armageddon”  click: www.amazon.com   type: how to avoid Armageddon

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Entry filed under: Blogroll, dangeous lies and halftruths, How to avoid Armageddon, In order to survive, Things not mentioned in the press. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

RESCUING THE PLANET – Part 1 Sobering truths about the future – part 1

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