What a simple concept, really. Whenever you speak, whatever you write, or however you communicate, always tell the truth. Although this is a simple concept, humanity has been struggling with telling the truth for millennia. Why is telling the truth sometimes so difficult, and why is it so important?
A doctorate in human psychology is not required to understand how lying became part of the human condition. At the heart of it, lying is about self-preservation or self-glorification.
At a base level, we have a need to feel safe and a need to be accepted; sometimes, in the moment, a lie seems to be the shortest path to achieve those goals.
Over the centuries, as civilizations have developed, the lie has also evolved. Instead of making a statement that is entirely untrue, some have learned that intentionally omitting certain facts from a narrative will achieve the same ends. In addition, we all have a friend or family member that exaggerates to the point that their statements ‘lose some truth’ along the way. Perhaps they feel that their reality will not meet with the approval of those around them, or maybe they enjoy being the center of attention as the ‘great storyteller’.
History tells us that lies can be devastating both on a personal and on a global level. The vast majority of human heartache has, as a root cause, a lie. Marriages and families have been torn apart and kingdoms have been destroyed. Hitler and the Nazis tried to perfect the art of the lie during WWII and were very successful using the lie to advance their maniacal plans to conquer the world. Paul Goebbels was the Reich Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. Goebbels and Hitler believed that if you tell a lie often enough and loud enough, people will believe it; this is especially true if the lie involves demonizing another person or a group of people.
Many politicians and most of the media have taken this strategy to heart in an effort to gain influence, power, and control. Much of popular culture (Hollywood, politicians, media) is promoting lies consistently, ubiquitously, and with intimidation, that fly directly in the face of truth as we know it in our hearts and minds; nevertheless, those lies are slowly becoming truths for a significant segment of the population because the lie is easier than the truth in the short term.
So why tell the truth if lying has become so prevalent and beneficial?
Simply because if you avoid the truth consistently enough, you will literally lose yourself in the lies. As Jesus himself states in John Chapter 8 verse 32, “The Truth will set you free”. God is Truth and Love, and running from truth is running from God, love, and the best version of yourself.
Truth develops integrity and trust. Truth allows us to be people who say what they mean and mean what they say. When we mess up or do something we are not proud of, as we all do, being truthful requires us to admit that mistake to others, which can be a very painful process; the pain will make you think twice about making that same mistake again in the future and telling the truth will renew your faith in yourself and cleanse your soul.
Kids lie. This fact can be very frustrating and confusing for parents. Even very young children will deny hitting their sister or ‘messing’ their diaper in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Teenagers will lie about friend groups, reasons for missing curfew, or being too sick to go to school.
Much of this is normal kid behavior; however, we as parents must teach our children that although a lie might provide short-term benefits, lies always cause long-term damage and hurt.
In some cases, you can explain to your kids why lying is dangerous and how it will negatively impact them as they grow older; in some cases, punishments like ‘no phone for a month’ need to be implemented to give them a taste for how lies will create pain and suffering for them when they are older; in all cases, your children are watching to see if you value the truth over lies, even when it hurts.