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Why People Lie

Most of the world’s major religions teach that deception is wrong, but people do it anyway. Have you stopped to ask, "Why?" “People lie for three reasons,” said Stan Walters, author of The Truth About Lying: How To Spot A Lie and Protect Yourself From Deception.

“They lie to hide something from you, to harm you in some way, or to hype themselves.”

Do you try to understand why people lie? Do you think you can spot a lie? Does it make you uncomfortable? Does it destroy your trust? Is trust important to you? Is trust in local government important to you? Is trust in candidates important to you? It is, after all, campaign season. I’m not talking about little white lies or children learning about truth and lies. I don't mean just why people lie, I want to consider and know why they do so in politics. Lie is a harsh word, so use deceive, misrepresent or whatever word you choose. However, lie is defined as: a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth, a falsehood. The words deliberate and intentional leave little wiggle room. The three reasons above are clear reasons, and when applied; when you suspect a lie, it just doesn't speak well of the person doing the lying. Back in 2000 there was a comedy called "Liar Liar" you might have seen. It was based on the premise of a person who was unable to lie for a period of time. What if we could implement that during campaign season and carry that through during time of service to the public? As adults we try to refrain from using the word liar or calling someone out as lying to be "politically correct." Isn't a lie in political circles or local government always "politically INcorrect"? Recently I saw an article using the word “untruths” – unfortunately, the article was full of “untruths” and the author wasn’t even aware of that because he didn’t fact check but accepted what someone else told him. Why do government officials "lie" when it clearly conflicts with information in their own documents? Do they think you won't take the time to read it for yourself? Do they think the facts are deeply hidden from the public? Do people feel comfortable lying if they think you don't know any better, like you're uninformed, or unable to fact check their info?

How about lying by omission? That seems to be popular in negotiations in political circles or during campaigns, even the hired experts use this tactic. Would a government entity continue to hire and pay a consultant if they didn’t present the results wanted? Is that based on “what they don’t know won’t hurt them”, or, maybe it’s “the ends justify the means” or, lying can be expeditious in getting what you want? No, it’s really one of the 3 reasons above.

Have you ever taken the oath “to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”? Have you been frustrated that someone who took that oath knowingly didn’t comply? What are the reactions of people caught in a lie - anger, defensiveness, upset, refusing to address the lie, attacking the person who exposes the lie, spinning in another direction, repeating it over and over in an attempt to make it true, getting others to agree with them in their lie? There are many websites regarding lying, you can check this one out for yourself.

Historically, in the days of our founding fathers and many years after and some today, education was based on “Research, Reason, Relate, and Record” with a Christian-Judeo underpinning. This required an investment of time and effort. In our rushed and busy lives, have we chosen to use the old “telephone game” of childhood? Do we demand people back up their statements with facts? Do we believe their claims of accomplishments without fact checking? Do we want to believe the best about people, give them the benefit of the doubt?

If during this campaign/election season you are suspicious of what people are telling you, check it out. Don’t let anyone call you paranoid because paranoia is defined as baseless suspicion of people’s motives. Incumbent candidates have a record that can be checked within their office. New candidates have their own histories, too.

Do the people lose trust in their government based on lies known or uncovered later? If the government isn't giving its citizenry the truth, look to the three (3) reasons above.

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