Allegiance to Truth in an Age of Deception

“If the root be in confusion, nothing will be well-governed.”

~ Confucius (551-479 BCE),
Chinese philosopher,
quoted in Confucius by Ezra Pound

 No doubt one taproot of our existence is truth without which it is difficult to thrive. If a plant sends forth its root in search of water, and finds only sand, it will wither. If a society requiring truth for its government, finds only deception, the social order, you, and I will fail to thrive.

We live in an age when deception seems the norm of government, corporations, and politicians. Given that living organisms are endowed with a drive to optimize their existence (see “The Ethics of Personal Growth”), how can individuals and families effectively govern their lives when the information they need to make decisions is false or misleading?

The U.S. government manages the public’s perception of economic reality by seeding main stream media (TV, newspapers, radio) with memes such as “green shoots” and now a “transitory bump” on the way to recovery. But the economy never recovered from the 2008 crisis. Government distorts economic statistics to minimize reported job loss, unemployment numbers, and inflation (e.g., “John Williams Special Hyperinflation 2011 Report“).

Precisely how are the hopes and dreams of the families of the growing millions of unemployed workers served by misdirecting their aspirations to the false hope that a recovery is in progress?

Neither does the U.S. government nor governments in general monopolize deception. The Japanese government and Tepco (the utility owning the Fukishima reactors) have consistently understated radiation statistics (e.g., “The Dangers of Fukishima are Worse and Longer-Lived than We Think“). Consider also how BP hired many Gulf Coast marine scientists to deny the U.S. government access the information it needs to sue BP (e.g., “BP Looks to Buy Up Gulf Coast Scientists”).

How can Japanese families and Gulf Coast residents thrive when the information they need to make informed and effective decisions concerning their health, well-being, and livelihood is denied them?

I think it unnecessary to exemplify the deceit of politicians. Altogether, the examples of the deception of government, corporations, and politicians are innumerable. The value underlying each deceit seems to be an allegiance to self-interest over truth, resulting in the disempowerment of everyone else’s ability to effectively self-direct and optimize their lives. It is as if you could kill truth, without injuring others and yourself.

Nevertheless truth seems to have it’s ways of overcoming obstacles, perhaps if only because the interests of common good and the intrinsic optimizing drive of Being do eventually trump the self-absorbed, self-interest of the few. As deception is revealed, the legitimacy of its proponents becomes undermined, and favorable changes can ensue one way or another.

Of course, to attribute deception to governments and corporations is a fallacy. Governments and corporations do not make decisions. People do. The individuals within these organizations choose whether to deceive the public or not.

Confucius said that the men of old seeking to rectify their governments, sought first to rectify their families; seeking to rectify their families, they first sought to rectify themselves. As individuals, we can contribute to the rectification of our societies by affirming our own personal allegiance to truth in our everyday lives.

Do you govern your life with an allegiance to truth?


(See also the post, “When Truth is Banned from the Marketplace of Ideas”)

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