Dangerous Epidemic

crowdThere is an epidemic in our culture today, one that I believe should concern all of us. This is not a physical malady that will require medical attention. It is actually more serious than that; one that will overtake a person in a heartbeat and carries the potential of bringing an immediate downward spiral to a life, and eventually contributing to the ruin of society.

I am speaking of the culture of lying that surrounds us. Many view this as an art form in attempting to better themselves by telling untruths. Many simply see lying as a way of life, with no regard of the repercussions for themselves or others. Not telling the truth is easy, self-serving and destructive for the individual and society in general.

LiarsHere are some interesting statistics as compiled by the Statistic Brain Research Institute:

  •  Adults who admit to telling lies sometimes or often – 12%
  •  Women who admit to occasionally telling “harmless” half-truths – 80%
  •  People who admit to lying on their resumes – 31%
  •  Patients who “stretched the truth” to their doctor – 32%
  •  Patients who lied about following their doctor’s treatment plan – 40%
  •  Patients admitting they lied to their doctor about their exercise regimen – 30%
  •  People who admit lying at least once during a 10 minute conversation – 60%
  •  Average number of lies per day by men to their partner, boss or colleague – 6
  •  Average number of lies per day by women to their partner, boss or colleague – 3

And these are supposedly the ones that are telling the truth on surveys – Wait! Is it the truth or not!? I’m confused.

But just taking the last two entries of the survey results, we can see that we have a big problem. If those represent even a tenth of our adult population in the US which is said to be 250 million, that would be 10 lies per day by 25 million adults. That averages 1 lie per day for every adult in the US – 250 million per day. This does not take into account the people under 18 years of age that are being taught by these same adults. Factor in the lies told in government circles, that we all know is the truth, and at the corporate business level, etc…And what do you have? A nation filled with liars! Sad.

We all know that “honesty is the best policy” and when a lie is told, the liar must keep track of it in their mind and probably will end up telling more lies to cover the original, and the next, and the next, etc.

trains1An angry, gruffy old guy boarded a train in the 19th Century. He didn’t want to be bothered by anyone else so he placed his luggage in the seat beside him to keep seat seekers at a distance. Sure enough, the passenger car began to fill up and a young man asked if he could sit down. Gruffy’s answer came back, “That’s my friend’s luggage. He had to go back to the ticket office.” The young man said, “That’s OK, I’ll just sit until he returns.” Then he sat down and placed the suitcase in his lap. The train began to pull away from the station and as their car passed the ticket platform, the young man became concerned for the grouchy traveler’s friend and tossed the suitcase out the window exclaiming, “He’s going to miss the train. At least he will have his luggage.”

Now, let’s be honest, isn’t it better just to be a person whose life is known for truthfulness? It sounds so simple and logical, but look at the survey again. 80% of women admit to telling half-truths and 40% of our people admit lying to their doctor, who is watching out for their well-being, and husbands and wives are lied to regularly. That’s why I refer to this as an epidemic.

This is a dangerous track for our society to be on. A track that can only result in complicated and damaged relationships personally and professionally. So what’s the remedy, if there is one? I must take us back to the time tested solution for life.

Moses recorded it first in Exodus 20:16 as the 9th of the 10 Commandments. Proverbs 19:22 says it is better to be poor than a liar. Colossians 3:9 simply says “Do not lie to each other.”

I certainly agree that life is complicated and the world we live in sets us up for and encourages us to lie and cover our own backsides. The idea is that if you don’t look out for your own interests, who will? But the better life is one lived in honesty before God and man, leaving an example for the next generation.

Thomas Jefferson“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” Thomas Jefferson