In our schools, in our workplaces, and in our relationships we have many opportunities to cheat. The temptations are vast, and the occurrences of making deceitful decisions are rising while the obstacles in poor decision-making are declining. We have begun to accept this as the standard. Constantly justifying the damaging behavior, we have become complacent. Perhaps a bit frightened and seemingly not willing to change, we are shocked only when something is extremely disturbing.
Even when proof is produced against outlandish exaggerations and outright lies, we continue to accept and even defend the dishonest conduct unless it is against us. We are willing to overlook so much until it hits our home directly. When that happens the loss of security and trust is devastating.
Far too often we are hearing phrases such as “a lot of people are saying…,” or “I was given that information,” and there does not seem to be a need to back up those statements with facts because there is no outcry for the truth. This rips at the core of each and every one of us. A denial of truth goes against everything good in all of our lives.
We do not have the time or energy to handle the barrage of information that we receive, so we have grown accustomed to taking the tasty tidbits and accepting most of what we hear without questioning. We may have a gut feeling or perhaps a twinge that keeps tugging at us, but it is just easier to be fed information instead of pursuing truth. There is also an element of fear concerning what we might find when we search for answers. Regardless, it is difficult, if not practically impossible, to make good decisions without a thorough search for actualities.
A multitude of resources are at our fingertips. It is not just a choice to take a little time to do some research, it is a responsibility to ourselves and our community in order to make wiser decisions. This process creates valuable and contributing citizens. Without a desire to delve for facts, we have a tough time with problem solving, and we are less likely to be original or innovative.
In addition to our lack of fact-finding skills, our moral compass seems out of whack as religious leaders readily offer forgiveness instead of expecting change much like the 16th century. Martin Luther was troubled by the selling of “indulgences” or purchasing exemptions from punishment of sins. People were not expected to do better, but of course no one wanted to go to hell for failing to repent, so you bought an indulgence. This was a win-win for all involved keeping the congregation happy and the church flush with money. But Luther spoke out against this practice.
We have to begin speaking out and demanding better.
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” -Anne Frank
When asked the question, “How can we move back toward an honest society?” Tamar Frankel, Professor of Law at Boston University, replied, “The first step is to be aware of the change. The second is to recognize the harm of this change and the danger that it will become our permanent culture. The third is trying to restore the balance between morality and law and the justice of the market. The most important part is enforcement: not the police and not even the leadership can make the change. It is each and every one of us that must make it and demand it of each other.”
It begins with you and me. It begins in our neighborhoods, in our schools, in our offices, and in our churches. We have to hold ourselves accountable and expect better from each other.
“I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better.” -Georg C. Lichtenberg
*Part 1 – Liar, Liar Pants on Fire was published February 18, 2017.