To Live Freely: Part Eight

I am concluding the section of this study where I examine the ways that we set others upon false foundations and all the negative consequences that follow. I’ve considered individual cases thus far, but now I want to turn my scope broader. After all, one way to prove the invalidity of a proposition is to apply it on a universal scale and then see if it maintains its original appeal. With today’s post I will hold the philosophy of the “helpful lie” to this universally-applied metric and see what the result of it is.

Applied in Reverse)

Suppose a religion were to have as one of its tenets that all other religious persuasions ought to be suppressed or destroyed. Clearly things would not work out so well for the members of that same religion if everyone else adopted the same principle towards them! It is a self-destructive policy, because it cannot be applied in reverse without destroying the originator. On the other hand, a religion having a fundamental tenet that there should be religious freedom for all others would be itself benefited and protected if the same principle were applied back to it again.

So I say to the person that believes in using beneficial lies to protect other people, you would do well to consider how you would feel if this same principle was applied back towards yourself, and also universally to all other people. You might say that you are comfortable with people telling you the same sort of lies that you tell to others, but that isn’t a fair comparison. Your idea of what is okay to lie about is your own personal opinion, so to be consistent you would have to be accepting of other people using their own judgment as to what is appropriate to lie to you about. Also, you might feel you could trust the decisions of those who are equal to you in intelligence and morality, but that also isn’t a fair comparison. You are less intelligent and moral than some of those that you lie to, so you must consider how you would feel being at the mercy of those who are less intelligent and moral than you.

Does that sound like a comfortable proposition, being subjected to the false realities concocted by the basest and meanest of society, entirely according to their own opinion and judgment? I’m certain it does not!

When one supports themself in telling a “white lie,” they give all other people permission to do the same, and that’s really not a trend that ought to be being perpetuated. On the other hand, when one firmly decides to tell the truth, they revoke the right of all others to lie. If enough of us were to insist on truth-telling for ourselves, and renounce lying on the part of others, we would likely start to see a ripple of truthfulness throughout our society. Convictions, once held by enough people, influence even those who have not become totally committed to them. And even if we don’t reach the point of mass adoption, at least those who perpetuate honesty will be living in a accordance with a principle that is constructive, not destructive.

Lies Upon Lies)

But let us go back to this notion of lies being told at all levels of our society. I have already discussed in a previous post how a lie, by its definition, separates everyone that stands upon it from the ground level of life as it really is. Everyone who believes in the lie is now out on a ledge which might break under its own weight, particularly as more and more people take residence upon it.

And now, extend that with the realization that many people who are already founded upon a lie are also telling additional lies upon it. People are exponentially multiplying the confusion, carving out more and more from the true foundation, extending ledges out upon ledges, building their deceitful worlds without any knowledge of where the center of balance even is. At some point, we will have the straw that breaks society’s back, and all will crumble in violence and chaos.

And I’m not merely saying that from a theoretical perspective, I believe the notion is borne out by a simple examination of history. I feel that these compounded lies are the only way to explain such collective insanity as was seen at Auschwitz and the Gulag. The deceit might have seemed “harmless” enough at first, a simple mischaracterization of national pride or social inequity. But then that deluded premise was compounded with faulty reasoning for how to address the issue and aggressively expanded by the masses taking hold of the idea, until an entirely untenable reality was force upon millions, killing countless of innocents and eventually collapsing the entire experiment under its own weight.

The only system which is sure to be equal and fair to everyone, the only one that is sure to be founded on solid bedrock, is the one that stands firmly on the ground of the truth. That truth may be unpleasant, and without any simple solutions, but dealing with it directly is the only possible way to make genuine progress. All other strategies are temporary structures, at times very pretty, but all of them doomed to fall.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 21:32-34

32 Thus they made a covenant at Beer-sheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines.

33 And Abraham planted a grove in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God.

34 And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines’ land many days.

Something we did not know until these verses is that Abimelech was king over the Philistine people. Obviously the Philistines will come to be one of the constant vexations to the people of Israel, but at this time their leader is friendly with the forefather of the entire Israelite nation.

I never realized before how the early records in Genesis take special care to detail the origin of nations that will become significant later on. For example we also learned how the Ammonites and Moabites came from the daughters of Lot, and they, too, will eventually be long-time enemies of the Israelites.

I had always assumed that when the Israelites were led out of Egypt the nations they warred against in Canaan were complete strangers to them. Evidently that viewpoint was incorrect, all these countries already had a history with each other.

Another interesting foreshadowing in these verses is that Abraham planted a grove to worship the Lord. Later on his descendants would keep the practice of worshipping in groves of trees, but they would be dedicated to pagan gods instead of the Lord. In today’s culture we have lost the connection between groves of trees and worship, but evidently it was a strong idea back in biblical times.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 10:25

25 And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan.

Genesis Chapter 10 is another genealogical chapter, giving the descendants of each of Noah’s children. And I find it very interesting this verse tucked away in the middle of it all, making a casual reference to the time when the earth was divided, which some have interpreted as meaning the supercontinent Pangaea splitting into the seven continents we know today.

Alternatively, it could also mean this was when humanity dispersed itself into different nations, after the confounding of the languages at the Tower of Babel, which we will soon read of. But in either case, what struck me about this verse was that many generations of humanity and hundreds of years are history are being flown by, with virtually no information of what transpired. The scriptures that we have, and also the history we books we have, only ever provide the smallest window into what was really going on in those ancient days.

Later books, such as those of the New Testament, take place in societies where we have a pretty good idea of what they were like. But the stories in Genesis we have little or no context behind. No wonder these tales take on such mythic proportions then, because we don’t even know how to properly conceptualize them.