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"Falsehood Is a Poison"

Paging through GULLIVER'S TRAVELS I came to the part where Gulliver's host in Houyhnhnmland is quizzing him, and Gulliver has a hard time explaining things because the Houyhnhnms have no concept of lying, no word for it, no way of comprehending what at times seems to be at the heart of human behavior. The Houyhnhnm accuses Gulliver of "saying the thing which was not."

It makes a body thoughtful. Humans do lie a great deal and lying poisons human interaction. I thought of three major areas in which lying is poisonous:

[1] Personal relationships
[2] Business relationships
[3] The Public Thing
[1] One need not elaborate much on the deleterious effects of lying in personal relationships. With lying there is no trust, no real relationship at all, other than power plays. "Don't lie to me!" "You lied to me!" Parents have a major responsibility to teach their children not to lie, and the only method that works is by example. Enough said.

[2] Amador Publishers is in the midst of a serious business crisis. Our distributor, until now, has not submitted a sales report for three years, and has not sent any payment for more than two years, and now we are at the point where the owner is lying to us. People make fun of the old "Your check is in the mail" scenario, but when it ISN'T in the mail after repeated assertions that it is, or will be by the end of week, week after week, a kind of poison begins to work. The possible monetary loss is bad enough, but there are worse results. Not only will this business relationship have to be terminated, which means finding a new distributor, who will be out of state, but the whole business enterprise is affected. The book business is crappy enough already, without having to deal with falsehood. It requires extra effort now, just to get up and get at the tasks that make the operation function at all.

[3] Some people get away with paying no attention to the larger community and a citizen's responsibility to be informed and to take part in some way. Others of us have taken those responsibilities very seriously -- to the point of being labeled "activists" and "protesters" and even "trouble-makers." There are people who believe that participation in citizen input is the major cause of unrest and trouble. We were often told in the old days by the people causing the injustice that "our niggers were happy until these damnyankee agitators got ahold of them."

Nowadays, it seems to me, we citizen agitators have one major task, which would cast light on many problems. We need to shout from the housetops, in our rants, our op-ed columns, our letters to the editor and our private conversations: "The chief executive is a liar!" or "The commander-in-chief is a liar!" And -- "His lying is poisoning everything!"

His press secretary is lying -- that's the job description for his position. Spinning by hired pundits is lying. Secrecy is a form of lying. His theology results in false statements. The initial axioms are false, and the resulting syllogisms produce falsehood.

Axiom: The Bible is literal truth.
Resulting falsehood: "There is no such thing as evolution, and therefore no mutating avian flu virus."
Additional resulting falsehood: "There is no such thing as global warming, since a good and all-powerful God will not allow it."

The acting president lies about the war, about the reasons for his wars, about social security, about prescription drug benefits, about marriage, about death and dying, about the history of the foundation of this country, about the Constitution, about creationism -- and the result of all that lying is the cynical malaise we see all around us. "It's all lies anyway, so why pay serious attention?"

Then we stop downloading and printing out the statements of the truthtellers that are still available. Admittedly, those statements are very demoralizing and exhausting. The poison of all that falsehood is working its harm, right here inside our heads and hearts.

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[Postscript: We are pleased to report that our complete line of books has been picked up by Books West of Boulder. If you would like your local bookstore to carry Amador books, please have them contact Books West.]

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Copyright © 2006 Harry Willson

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