A French proverb tells us that only fools and children speak the truth.
Many children grow up believing in the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. It obviously isn’t because they researched the issue on what happens to their teeth after they put them under their pillows or how a sleigh run by reindeers can fly all over the world in one night.
Someone told them to believe it.
I believed in these things as a kid because it felt good. I liked to believe that someone was thinking about me and giving me rewards.
It was all plausible to me because I did not give the details of any of these myths much of a thought.
For most of us where I grew up, these were among the first things that someone (i.e. adults) told us to believe. The beliefs of the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny were our first official theories.
We laughed off any suggestion that they were not real. After all, everyone we knew believed in them, so we did, too. Anyone who said anything to the contrary was not with us. They were just foolish.
The best theory in alternative to the official one was, of course, the theory that adults were lying to us about where the money we would find underneath our pillows or gifts under the Christmas tree would come from. Our parents – lie to us?
It was a lie to help us enjoy our childhood, long before we became adults ourselves and faced big responsibilities. The lie made us feel safe. Never mind it was barely plausible.
But the white lies didn’t stop there. And it wasn’t just being lied to, either.
We learned to lie and accept lies out of comfort. I could not stand eating certain vegetables as a child. I also learned my mom feared looking old. So, at around the age of eight, I lied to my mom by telling her she looked 30 (she was 31 when I was born) to get her approval to skip the vegetables.
In high school, I had a date with a girl who offered no opinions, thoughts or ideas on anything during our dinner. I should have told her that I did not want to see her again. Instead, to avoid the discomfort of dirty looks from her friends who were in my classes, I waited for her to tell me that I was not a high priority.
I don’t know who told the lie that I just needed to get a bachelor’s degree to get a good job. But I felt conditioned to believe it. Then I discovered the cold truth when I took a job shortly after college graduation that did not even pay minimum wage and for which I slaved to try to please a boss who could not be pleased.
We are simply conditioned to avoid truths that would wake us from our slumber of comfort. We are conditioned to respond negatively to unpleasant truths.
I had trouble believing any of my English ancestors held slaves. My family wouldn’t do that! But I couldn’t help but notice a black man named Edgerton Hartwell while watching National Football League games. There were so few blacks in England during the time my ancestors were there, the proof that people I am related to owned slaves stares back at me.
The issue here is not really the truth. It is comfort. Few will risk stepping out of their comfort to speak up for the truth. It is so much easier to stay asleep and tell ourselves that at least we aren’t foolish.
You are doing the impossible. Your campaign is making my old nemesis, Ronald Reagan, look good.
The old school of Republicans did not politicize tragedy like you have. They did not hold press conferences to denounce their opponents’ Administrations like you have done recently in regards to the tragedy in Libya.
Ronald Reagan did not use the Iran Hostage Crisis to attack President Carter the way that you have gone after President Obama.
Reagan told lies but not as shamelessly as you have. And when called upon their lies, they did not blame the imaginary “liberal media” for reporting them.
What is with your complaint about Candy Crowley? She upheld President Obama’s assertion that he called the Libyan tragedy an “act of terrorism” the day after it happened. You made a specific allegation about Obama and it was wrong. Fess up and quit whining!
Republicans like you do not apologize. It is not that you are without fault, but that you believe you have impunity.
How does one obtain impunity?
When one knows that a significant group of people has their back. Complaints about media bias would go nowhere unless someone amplified it.
How does a message get amplified?
Through a medium of communication. Also known collectively as the media.
Turn on the talk radio stations. You will hear the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and many others who spin the conservative/New Republican line about media “bias.”
Go to the Internet. There are plenty of web sites with this same take on the media.
Look at the newspapers. Most editorial boards endorse the GOP candidate for president.
Most people are not getting information from people like Candy Crowley. You just didn’t like getting called out in front of millions of people who watched the debate.
You just don’t like it when someone disagrees with you. So take your own media, free of critical thought, and enjoy it. Let the rest of us think for ourselves.
We realize at some point in our formative years certain truths. Only one kid is the smartest kid in the class and it is not us. The person we have a crush on may not have a crush on us. We get privileges like driving at roughly the same rate that we get responsibilities (like paying for gasoline or insurance).
The harder truths welcome us to adulthood. We have to find a way to pay the bills, to work with bosses and co-workers who see the world differently than we do and some of us get interesting neighbors.
These are the truths that we handle. We go to work, we play by the rules of society and we deal with the consequences when we do not.
But some truths make us feel uncomfortable. These truths typically come to our attention when the rules are murky and we have no one to ask for advice.
Take, for example, a situation where one is a witness to a crime. The rules of society urge us to report the activity to the police, and I am sure most people do so. But what if the police are involved in the crime, or one’s employer? The consequences of acting approach the consequences of not doing so.
Let’s say the witness to the crime is an advisor to a candidate for high office. And the witness sees the candidate involved in illegal campaign contributions and falsifying campaign finance reports.
The witness now has several factors to consider: Do I tell anyone? Who would I tell? How badly will I be harming the campaign (that the witness otherwise believes in)? Whom could I ask for advice who won’t tell the candidate? Can I tell an authority this information anonymously? If my name is given to the candidate by the person I tell, will I be fired? Will I then be able to get another job?
The truth of what happened here is indisputable. The truth of what to do about it is far more complex.
Some accounts of the truth depend upon the teller. People who have much to lose typically show no interest in giving the whole story about what they know.
A man goes to a workshop entitled “Finding the Truth.” He listens to the lecturer drone on and on about a number of different topics. Afterward, he decides to approach the lecturer and ask him, “What is the truth?”
“The truth reveals itself every day.”
Puzzled by this response, the man asked others attending the class what the truth was. They replied that “the truth is as the professor says.”
Frustrated, he went to the cashier’s booth to ask for his money back. The cashier looked at him and asked why.
“I didn’t get my money’s worth about finding the truth!”
“The truth is that if you walk away now, you will lose your opportunity to join the elite club.”
The lecturer, the other attendees and the cashier all told the truth, but simply failed to mention one fact to the man: they were involved in a pyramid scheme.
So some truths do not dare speak their name. And some questions with certain individuals will be completely ineffective. For example, if you ask a devout Christian whether the Resurrection took place, do you really think their answer will be anything but affirmative?
Getting the truth about any topic of interest rarely involves one question. The witness to the campaign crime cannot determine the best approach without going through a series of questions like the one described.
And some questions are misplaced. The man who attended the lecture could have asked the professor what the lecture had to do with finding the truth. And one could ask a devout Christian why they believe in the Resurrection.
Setting the truth free involves going through the circumstances around it and then picking a set of questions that pinpoint what one needs to know.