Time to get real: we're living in a land of fear and fibs
Most of us seem to be living in a
constant state of fear. And to cover our fear we have overlaid
our lives with a camouflage of falsehood.
In simple terms, because we are
afraid we tell lies - constantly.
I suppose it's not surprising in
the society we have created for ourselves. The basis of all fear
is twofold: that we will lose what we have; or that we will not
get what we want.
In a mercenary society those two
possibilities are with us all the time. So those of us who are
into money, property and prestige live in constant anxiety.
Those of us who aren't - who are
grateful for what money we have, hold loosely to what property we
own and who really couldn't care less what other people think of
us - don't.
For instance, there are about a
dozen people in this world whose opinion of me I value highly.
The opinions of the rest are irrelevant; they have no capacity to
hurt me, no matter what they are.
Which is not to say that it does
not pay to listen to criticism. The criticism will be either
valid or invalid. If it is valid, I should be grateful to the
critic, take notice, and mend my way. If it is invalid, it can be
ignored. In both cases I am the sole judge, always remembering
that the capacity of the human mind to deceive itself is
The dreadfully destructive miasma
of fear and falsehood that is all around us is damaging society,
sometimes, I think, irreparably.
Those who, to have any self-worth
at all, live to keep what they have and get what they want
quickly learn to tell lies. Thus we live in a society in which
dissimulation and circumlocution have become an art form and in
which the truth, when uttered by those who still see honesty as a
virtue, is greeted with shock.
Or with the fatuous question first
asked by Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, of Jesus Christ:
"What is truth?"
To which the simple answer in this
context is that truth is the absence of lies; an honest
recognition and/or recital of circumstances as they are and not
as we would like them to be.
When it comes to dissimulation,
politicians - of all colours and at all levels - lead the field.
They work on the mushroom-grower's principle: keep them (which is
us) in the dark and feed them manure.
Politicians are classic examples
of culture of fear overlaid with falsehood. They can't tell the
truth because people mightn't like it. And if people didn't like
it, the pollies might lose what they have - power and perquisites
- and not get what they want - more power and more perks.
But they are not alone. In
business these days it seems you'll get nowhere by being
truthful. I have a very dear friend who has just been through the
trauma of looking for a new job. She is as upfront and honest as
a summer day is long. With her, what you see is what you get.
Which, she discovered, doesn't go
down too well with some employment agencies, an executive of one
of which told her that she should rework her totally honest CV to
make herself look more attractive as an employee and not be so
forthright at interviews.
It was, she was told, the usual
thing these days to tweak CVs and to dissimulate at interviews in
such a way as to make it a bit more likely that you will get what
The proliferation of employment
agencies (and other "consultants"), incidentally, is simply
another manifestation of the insecurity that plagues the nation,
exhibited in a growing inability among many to take
responsibility for their own actions but rather to set up systems
in which there will be someone else to blame.
If I were in the hiring and firing
business, I wouldn't let an employment agency or a "human
resources" wonk anywhere near the candidate.
The appointment would be made on
the basis of my own experience and intuition, in which I have
much greater faith than I would have in those who need to set
complex psychological tests and to hold several interviews to
help them to make up their minds - at very considerable expense
to the customer.
In the unlikely event that the
appointment turned out to be unsatisfactory, I'd comfortably
carry the can for that, too.
The fear and fib culture is doing
inordinate damage to individuals, to groups and to our community
as a whole. It infects politics and the bureaucracy, families and
schools, churches, health services and welfare, law and order and
justice, business, sport and recreation.
If you don't believe me, just read
this newspaper: you'll find examples in its pages every day.
In the meantime, hear this from
the wise writer of Proverbs: "The fear of the Lord is the
beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and
Used with permission NZ