Whatever happened to truth? Has it become devalued in the arena of public discourse?
There’s axiomatic humor that warns, “If you kill a bug, another thousand will come to the funeral.” The same could be said for lying—tell one and it will require several more to cover your trail.
As a patrol officer, I extended a “warning” to most motorists who acknowledged guilt during traffic stops. Why? Because their confessions were rare.
Virtue of truth
If I had to select a single virtue that would be the best place to begin curing social ills, it would be honesty. The personal and political agenda’s of many have led an overwhelming number of people down the road of deceit. Once deception is unleashed, trust will vanish—a common trait of ineffective leaders.
Many compromised practices that eventually fail are the result of lying. Perhaps that also explains why politicians consistently have low approval ratings; they constantly lie!
Unfortunately, “spin” is an accepted practice that is valued if it helps the individual or organization achieve a goal.
Paradox of the day: Police officers can be fired once they become proven liars. However, many politicians and people in the media use intentional deception (lying) to further their cause with no penalty for deceit. … And they are the individuals holding police accountable?
Acknowledge preferences – Act with integrity
Sadly, political games have impact since EVERYONE possesses biases of one form or another. Hence, these are called preferences. I.e. I like blueberries better than strawberries. Yet, if I’m a judge in a pie-baking contest, I need to recognize my bias and set it aside in order to maintain integrity, or recuse myself.
Consequently, setting inclinations to the side and pursuing the best options—with truth as a barometer—in the foremost interest of society is what separates a leader with character versus an unprincipled organizer.
The Bible takes a straightforward stand on the issue of truth. It is written, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” This is the ninth commandment, and Scripture takes a broad perspective on the term “neighbor.”
Deuteronomy 19 discusses witnesses, and testifying against someone accused of a crime. “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime…” (v. 15). “The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst” (vv. 18, 19).
The words “malicious” and “evil” are used to describe one bearing false witness against another. And the consequences were severe! Sadly, those terms are not associated with lying today.
If I had a dollar every time a person willfully lied to me during a criminal investigation, I’d be a wealthy man! Law enforcement officer’s everywhere can offer testimony to criminal deceit—a trait no longer reserved for crooks!
Virtue of honesty
Jesus extolled graciousness for the corrupt as He was confident God’s justice would trump human’s attempt at retaliation. But Christ upheld the virtue of honesty when He said, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” In the context of Matthew 5, He was simply saying, “tell the truth.” It might be humbling, but it’s not difficult.
– Jim McNeff
Jim worked in military and civilian law enforcement for thirty-one years. While in the USAF he flew as a crewmember aboard the National Emergency Airborne Command Post—a presidential support detail. Following his military service, he served for twenty-eight years with the Fountain Valley Police Department in Orange County, California where he retired as a lieutenant. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice from Southwest University and graduated from the prestigious Sherman Block Supervisory Leadership Institute as well as the IACP course, Leadership in Police Organizations.