Submitted by William Elder.
The Human Being, as best we have the intelligence and distance to understand ourselves enough to pronounce upon us all as a species— beyond giggling— is an amazing coming together of the physical self and the mental self in this welcoming Eden of a planet. Muscle and mind trying to work together. But to accomplish what, to what end, and by what standard of success? This is what we have been trying to work out over these long tortuous centuries. It’s a tough system to make work and we humans are caught right in the middle of it.
That we are— pinch me— is self-evident. By what standards of success can we honestly measure our progress, and to what end? That remains our big head-scratcher. Well, “honestly” might be a place to start. Early on, humans tried to agree upon what was “reality.” They called it by a variety of names, in an array of tongues. In English— actuality, real life, truth, the way our senses tell us how our world is. How we describe it, first in concept, then in imagery, is the task of language. To work at defining and refining reality was— and is— not easy, a more and more subtle task as language and our use of it grows. Fact and truth are crawly things, hard to pin down.
Just when it occurred to language-users that the wiles of the human intellect had leapt ahead of innocence isn’t quite clear, but clearly it had. It had occurred to the cleverest of us that truth could be twisted to the speaker’s advantage: by lying: by knowingly twisting fact, actuality, real life into lies, not by simple mistake, but by malice of forethought twisting truth into falsehood. It was an astonishing advantage in any dispute, any assertion of accurate perception; it could change everything.
And did. Truth, as it could be honestly put forth, laid out, and believed, was forever compromised.
Liars countered the protests of the truth-tellers of history: it’s just becoming more clever, sophisticated, voicing another perspective, taking advantage of the naive, the suckers, the losers. Just grow up! Maybe they were at least partially right. Believing in the old myths, tales, aphorisms bespoke an old-fashioned bumpkinism we were well rid of. What’s wrong with that?
Robert Ruark, in his novel Something Of Value had one answer.“When we take away from a man his traditional way of life, his customs, his religion, we had better make certain to replace it with something of value.”
I submit contemporary liars haven’t replaced our values with anything but greed and self-serving, not by a long shot.
These days lying infects America like the pestilential plague under which we all suffer, labor to make right, and too many die of daily. It is, if not its chief cause— who in truth can definitively say yet— then at least it is its sustainer and spreader. This much is clear and obvious, and only its abetters dare deny it— and then only foolishly, and with shame. This Republican Administration has at its feet the responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans, which this veteran, for one, will not accept in silence and will not share again at all. Donald Trump is a proven liar, cheat, and thief— any one of which would have gotten me dismissed from the University of Virginia in disgrace as an honor violation that carried with it consequences. Decency, not politics, moves me to write this. Fear for the future of our Experiment In Democracy— hanging by a thread— prompts me to defend it to my limit. Please, help me end this deceit, expunge this national disgrace that should too carry with it consequences.