Lying, a Most Grievous Offense

“Oh what a tangled web we weave/ When first we practise to deceive.”
Sir Walter Scott penned those words in 1808 as part of his poem, “Marmion,” but they continue to ring true today. Perhaps, as we review the many ways people are being deceived daily in every corner of life and the world, we shouldn’t be surprised.

Although twisting and bending the truth should have no place in our lives, so many folks don’t give it a second thought these days. “What can it hurt?” they might say.

If we look at the march to the election in the fall, we see example after example of the ways the truth has been twisted, reassembled as half-fact, half-fiction, revised and sometimes completely discarded as politicians court votes.
After what could be described as free-for-all shouting matches — otherwise known as debates — we must wait until fact-checkers tell us what is actually true rather than the fanciful rendition one or another of the candidates promoted as fact.

We even have ways of describing what’s happening: “spin.” Like cotton candy collecting on a tube growing ever larger, the truth may be buried in the sugary substance or lost in the spinning tube.

It’s truly shameful and embarrassing to see where the truth has landed — at the very bottom of many lists — in so many instances, whether it’s in the political arena or in some other forum.

Advertisers don’t always have a firm grip on the truth with the claims they make about various products. Unless the falsehoods are egregious, like “allowable filth” in food manufacturing, we are expected to deal with it.

When I was growing up, my grandmother said over and over that lying is stealing the truth and a terrible offense. As my children grew up, I gave them the distinct impression that lying is a most grievous offense and calling someone a liar is disgraceful.

Telling the truth is the honorable way to retain integrity, and integrity is of paramount importance, I told them. The jury is still out on how successful I have been.

In today’s society, people seem to believe that lies can become truths if they are told often enough. If the lie doesn’t seem to be working, shouting it might help.
Ridiculous? Are you watching the politicians? These are the stock and trade of folks who spin half-truths around a mere kernel of fact.

Believing in Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny, leprechauns and other mythical folks works for small children, but we all need to put that aside and become adults who want to know the truth, to seek it out, even if it doesn’t turn out to be exactly what we hoped it would be.

Who are our standard-bearers of truth? While people today don’t seem to notice or care about the truth, it really suggests they are still slinging their taunts and names in the sandlot and not in the world where adults live and work, pray and love.