‘You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’ Most of you have heard this quote from the New Testament. But what does it mean that the truth will make you free? Truth makes you free from what? Truth frees you from misinformation, doubt, confusion and from wrong decisions you make and actions you take on the basis of knowledge that turns out not to be true. True to what? You might ask. True to life would be my answer.
Truth makes you free for what? When you think about it, truth makes you free to choose. Without knowing what is true, you cannot make good choices. You require accurate information to make the best decisions for your life. It’s why democracy only works when citizens are educated.
Lying is a form of dictatorship. Lies enslave you. They rob you of the truth, and thereby rob you of your freedom and the capacity to choose beneficially. This form of dictatorship is far more widespread than most of you know, and also vastly more widespread than you even imagine.
It’s not just in law courts or politics that lying is common. It’s just most obvious to us in those arenas. But misrepresentation is widespread in every area of life. People lie in their personal, family, cultural, educational, scientific, business, medical, sales-related, industrial, religious, professional, marketing and other relationships.
Group coherence, member protection in ‘old boys’ networks’ and the maintenance of power and control often take precedence over truth. But the truth is that knowing the truth makes you free and that lies enslave you. Deception and lack of integrity, while they may work in the short term, destroy everything in the long term. The truth ALWAYS eventually comes to light. Truth is built to last.
Reasons for Lying
Why do people lie? I know of only three reasons.
First, you may be genuine but misinformed and not know it. That’s the only benign reason for not telling the truth. Although it misleads, it’s lying only in the sense that you’re not clear (or honest) about the limits of your knowledge. We all do it at times. It may be assumptive. It may be sloppy. It’s a bit stupid. It’s the result of not having verified what it true, and speaking without clarity. Sometimes, it comes from unexamined thoughts that parents, teachers or culture imposed on you when you were young, before you had the ability to question and think for yourself. Sometimes, it comes from something you personally observed and misinterpreted.