South Dakota Top Blogs

News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Every violation of truth is not only a sort of suicide in the liar, but is a stab at the health of human society.*

 Those words from *Ralph Waldo Emerson diagnose the cause of a failing democracy.  We are experiencing it now.  He was one of the first American scholars to study language and how it works in the human experience and what role it has in how humanity organizes itself.  Language is the bloodstream of the mind.  It nourishes and provides the oxygen of consciousness and thought.  When language is polluted, it poisons the personal and social thought processes.  Individual and social thought then malfunctions.  The most deadly pollutant is lies.

Most people of any intelligence almost instinctively understand lies are cancers that decay and kill life.  If you can't trust language, you can't believe or trust anything.  Therefore, people who have any knowledge and respect for the requisites of a decent life avoid liars.

However, there is a distinction between types of lies.  There are malicious lies which are intended to gain some kind of advantage for oneself over others or to deceive others for some purpose.  They are the ones that damage people, their relationships, and the world we live in.  Then there are the white lies, the false compliments or the making-nice deceptions we make in deference to the feelings of others.  When, for example, a couple shows us a new born who has a nose like a rutabaga and ears like an elephant,  we don't say, "Jesus Christ!  That's one ugly baby!"  We comment on how cute, precious, and adorable it is, because we understand that the baby is precious to someone.  And to those who adhere to  the better parts of human culture, all life that is not malevolent is valuable and worthy of respect.  Lies told to maintain good will and respect are forgiveable and often necessary.  They are the opposite in purpose of lies of malevolence.  

Humans are social creatures that create relationships and complicated infrastructures to live satisfactory lives.  Our social relationships recognize interdependencies and the destructive effects of lies.  For Christians, the Bible condemns lies and warns people about their effects throughout.  Paul writes to the Ephesians (4:25):  "Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another."  He stresses the damage lies do to the human community.  

So, here we are with a president whose words cannot be believed or trusted.  His lies are a constant stabbing at society.  And our democratic society does not seem to realize that it is being stabbed to death from a multitude of wounds.  

Lying has been recognized as a peril to life from the earliest records of civilization.  When the leader of a country is a prodigious liar, the country cannot be trusted to fulfill its announced purpose.  Trump is avidly stabbing away at democracy, and his supporters cheer him on.  

We seem to have learned nothing from World War II when we battled against the malicious lies of the Nazis.  We are living in violation of truth.  While the toll of Covid-19 consumes the country, the liar-in-chief tells us we are turning the corner. 

 Lies kill.

No comments:

Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States