October 11, 2011 at 2:57 pm Leave a comment

It isn’t necessarily money

Based on talks by Ralph Dobrin

Author of “How to avoid Armageddon”
Available through Amazon
Click:  type: how to avoid armageddon

We all demand that people not lie to us, even though we all occasionally engage in some form of untruthfulness towards other – through exaggeration, half-truth and other forms of twisting of the truth. Note how indignant we become when someone lies to us. We loathe hypocrisy. Friendships – even long-lasting friendships – are sometimes terminated on the spot if we feel that someone has hidden the truth from us. And with family, lying and any form of deceit hurts even more, because the trust that should be even more inherent and forthcoming, has been betrayed.

Our aversion to falsehood might be an instinctive thing, something like the disgust and revulsion caused by … exposed excrement. I think that our revulsion from exposed excrement stems from our innate knowledge, alerted by the smell, that uncovered and exposed, it can be a source of disease. Our instinct tells us that it poses a danger and therefore must be avoided or effectively disposed of. In a similar way, falsehood in any of its various forms, is perceived by all people as a threat in some way or another. Untruthfulness might not reach our olfactory senses, and although most of us might not be sensitive to its perniciousness when we ourselves lie, we instinctively recognize the potential for harm and detriment when lied to – even when the issues are quite innocuous. The saying that, “something stinks here,” when talking about deceit might be more apt than we realize.

This brings us to a question. Aren’t there times when twisting the truth or telling a little white lie might be preferable to telling the absolute truth? I think that, like just about every principle, there are exceptions to the rule. Depending on circumstances. In a life or death situation, like during the Nazi era for instance, lying about one’s ethnic roots made perfect sense if you wanted to stay alive.

But let’s take a less drastic situation – like if we’re visiting friends for dinner and the hostess asks us whether we are enjoying the casserole that she served up. But if the casserole tastes like burnt rubber, should we be honest and answer, “Oohh, it’s awful!“ Or is it better to lie and say that it’s very tasty, or pretend to have toothache or indigestion. Which is worse from a moral point of view? Either tell the truth and hurt someone’s feelings … or tell a white lie so as to spare her feelings. It’s a form of value judgment that we would have to make. There is often a third alternative and that is by simply nodding with a non-committal smile, which is more or less the same as telling her that you don’t like her casserole. Just you’re not being blunt about it.

The outright lie is not the only way that people deceive each other. People also use half-truths, which can be even more deceptive. And many of us also deceive ourselves. Through wishful thinking and denial we often choose to ignore pertinent facts that might be staring us in the face. This is closely related to yet another form of self-deception, which is when we stubbornly cling to old ideas, ways and attitudes, while refusing to consider events and developments that don’t fit our perceptions, and by doing this we can come to wrong conclusions and make disastrous decisions. It’s all part of what’s called cognitive dissonance. Actually it’s a form of lying to ourselves! And most of us – if not all of us – have this tendency from time to time.

* * *

In any human framework, no matter how large or small, when truthfulness and integrity are the factors that determine the general tone, you can be pretty sure of mutual trust and respect, appreciation and cooperation. Whether it’s in the family or any kind of business or organization, such an approach makes the smooth flow of information and sensible decision-making far more likely than when deceit and lying prevail. No doubt about it whatsoever – integrity, honesty and truthfulness help create a far more pleasant, efficient, productive and successful entity in any human framework.

Problems that arise will be more openly discussed and worked out and people will tend to concentrate on doing whatever they are supposed to be doing, to the best of their ability, instead of doubting orders and data, or expecting to be double-crossed. And it would be the same in any form of local or national government.

And the same goes for international relationships. When there’s deviousness on the part of one or more parties, there’ll be no mutual trust, and that can lead to all kinds of serious problems that needn’t have arisen, and which can have awful consequences, as history has so often shown. On the other hand, when there is mutual trust, brought about through openness and honesty, most issues between countries can be more readily and satisfactorily dealt with, which means better commercial and cultural exchange and cooperation, and far less likelihood of tension and conflict, all to the benefit of people everywhere.

But let’s keep things in perspective. These positive qualities – as essential and commendable as they are – won’t solve all problems. Truthfulness won’t prevent an earthquake or ensure success in everything we do. But it will lead to more objective reasoning, less delusion, less suspicion, less mistakes and far, far less corruption, and therefore a much better chance of success in any human endeavor. Actually, if we do keep things in perspective, we might find that truthfulness … is indispensable if we want to redeem our planet.

After all, things are becoming far less manageable than ever before. There are too many people on the planet. Too many stomachs to fill; too many mega-tons of human and industrial waste to dispose of; too many automobiles spewing out noxious fumes, adding to the immense pollution caused by industry and power stations, all fueled by insatiable commercial and political interests. We keep subjecting our planet to unpardonable abuse. There have been clear warning signs for almost a generation that unless we change course, all life on this planet will be harmed and might even go the way of the dinosaur and the dodo. Not tomorrow or the next day, but some time in the not-too-distant future. To compound all this cynical disregard for the future well-being of our world, is a crazed and vicious form of religious fundamentalism, craving the End of Days as a portal to Paradise, and that is now to poised to acquire nuclear weaponry.

What all this means is that humanity must begin to face facts. Every thinking person must begin to face these facts with a maximum degree of honesty and then act accordingly. We are courting peril if we fail to do so. 

Continued: The root of most evil – 2 (

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Entry filed under: dangeous lies and halftruths, How to avoid Armageddon, In order to survive, Solutions for Palestine. Tags: , , , , , , , , .


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