One thing I remember reading many years ago is that anything based on a lie will ultimately fail.
I do not remember specifically where I read this, but over the years I have found it to be somewhat (to my surprise) rather true. Things that are begun with lies may triumph for a time - and be awful and incredibly painful and destructive while they are in power - but eventually, they collapse.
A lie, in case one has not checked out the definition lately, is "to make an untrue statement with an intent to deceive; to create a false or misleading impression". Seems pretty clear, does it not? It has some specifics to it as well: an untrue statement with an intent to deceive, creating a false or misleading impression.
Now, we all at some time make an untrue statement. Sometimes it is simply due to a lack of knowledge about a subject or simply a misinterpretation of something due a misread or misheard statement. And sometimes we create a false or misleading impression accidentally, like we when we talk about something as if we know about it and someone else assumes we are experts (although we just happen to have read a magazine article once on the subject). But in both of these cases, intent is the key difference: we do not intend to deceive or create a false or misleading impression, it simply happens.
Far different, of course, from someone - a person, an organization - intending to deceive or intending to create false impressions.
And yet, this is where we find ourselves in the modern world.
It is a contrast, is it not? We live in a world where now, more than ever, "truth" is supposed to be the guiding principle - and at the same time, live in a world where in so many ways, "the ends justify the means".
In writing the above, I run the risk - as I always do - of pushing the discussion into areas that we simply do not cover here (and will, once again, not be covered here - so if the response is something along the lines of "and look at <fill in the blank> and what they are doing", save it - it will not be published). But I write it anyway because there is one thing that we can 100% control in this discussion: ourselves and how we deal with the truth.
We - I, anyway - have to start with an examination of my own handling of truth and lies.
Am I 100% committed to the truth? To be fair, no. I, probably just as often as anyone else, too often take refuge in a convenient lie (again, an untrue statement with the intent to deceive or creating a false impression) as anyone else. Too often in the past I have walked a fine line between what was truth and what would keep me out of trouble. Too often I have left things subtly undefined in order to create an impression that was different that what the actual facts might have really been.
In other words, I was in essence practicing the very things that I am decry. And to the point of my introduction, the things generally ended very badly indeed.
Because that is the underlying problem with founding things on lies. Not having truth undergirding them, at some point they collapse either because in order to sustain the lies, there need to be more lies, or simply the lies to comport with the real facts on the ground, which eventually catch up with situation.
It is easy to point to dictatorships that squashed any element of the truth except what the leadership wanted to hear, with horrific results: Mao's Great Leap Forward comes to mind as perhaps one of the worst, where lies about the incredible harvests (up to and including a paper-mache pig of enormous size) hid the facts as the existed. And more and more, it seems easy to point to "free" societies that suffer from the issues. But we often react poorly when we begin to ask how committed we are to the truth.
If we want to change anything - starting with ourselves of course, and extending outward as far as we would like to our families, our groups, our societies, our world - we have to start with ourselves and a dedication to not lying and by extension, a dedication to the truth. And by ourselves, I specifically mean not making false statements intending to deceive or creating false impressions. If the world is built on lies, let us not contribute to it.
(I am reminded via a quick search that I had reviewed Rod Dreher's Live Not By Lies last year. It seems apropos to post again based on today's subject).