Sunday, March 26, 2006

Do you mind if I lie to you?

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.
- George Orwell, writer (1903-1950)

Who cares? you may ask.

Language is the means by which human endeavour functions. Almost everything we do in a day is related somehow to language that has been communicated by someone else.

When the communicator of a message is insincere, meaning he or she is not telling the whole truth or is intentionally lying, the receiver not only might do something which is harmful to himself or others, or may be useless, but it may cause him to lose trust in the word of others.

Losing trust is about the worst thing that can happen to a person because that person, in turn, cannot be trusted by others and does not want to be emotionally close enough to trust others.

Ill intent on the part of the listener is equally deceptive. When a listener intentionally twists the meaning of a message he has received, any amount of damage to the conveyor of the message or to others as a result of the message is possible.

Look what resulted from the skewed messages that Hitler received about Jews prior to 1938. And how he changed even those messages to suit his cause of world domination and purification of the aryan "race."

When we do not teach the importance of truth to children and ourselves maintain the standards we teach, we find ourselves in a world where no one can trust anyone.

We can teach truth as a value and have it make a major impact, at least in the primary grades of elementary schools. This should be sufficient to make truth much more important to the adults of the future than it is today.

However, we must also teach that many people do not tell the truth, that they try to deceive us. Otherwise children get the impression (rightly so) that we are teaching them a hypocrisy not what I do. We must teach that many people deceive others as well as the importance of telling the truth ourselves in order for children not to become confused, resulting in the kind of teenage angst we see today in western countries.

Children understand so long as we teach them the whole story. And so long as the teachers do not themselves deceive the kids.

Things can change. It must begin somewhere. It can begin with you and me.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to make truth a guiding principle of humanity.
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