Pants on Fire
A New Definition of Lying
In 1810, William Blake wrote the poem, “The Liar.” It begins
Your trousers are alight…
A children’s rhyme is more to the point. “Liar, liar, pants on fire.” Indeed, the child is correct, for the night sky is aglow and the smoke of smoldering pants of politicians, media anchors and White House spokespersons obscures the day.
Lying has become an accepted practice in our country. We have allowed it. Politicians are masters of dishonesty. In fact, new phrases have recently been added to the lexicon of deceivers and dissemblers—phrases like fake news, alternative truths, and “I misspoke.”
I look for a way to get your attention, so you will no longer shrug your shoulders and accept lying as a normal part of our leadership’s behavior. I say to you that for a government official to knowingly lie to the American public is treason. It is a betrayal of the country and its ideals.
Powerless No More
We think there is little we can do about the state of dishonesty and distrust in America, but this is not true. We are not helpless because we are at the root of the problem. All power is given to us, but it must be exercised. The solution is simple. We will not elect liars, and those who lie will not represent us. They are not worthy of us.
Consider what happens during our election process. Lies and exaggerations are committed. Political Action Committees (PACs) publish outlandish deceit, and candidates do not challenge the lies because the lies support their desire to be elected. The lies are perpetuated so the candidate can be elected, so they can serve us.
I say to you that the candidates whose first action serves them are not motivated by a desire to serve. They are not for the people; they are for themselves. But we elect them. We endorse their lies. Are the politicians the problem, or is it we who elect them? Can’t we see the pants on fire?
That’s A Lie and You Know It
Honesty is about a truthful relationship with others; integrity is about a truthful relationship with oneself. To be dishonest is to dishonor oneself. Rather than a state of esteem, regard and self-respect, there is shame and disgrace, and when lies are challenged, those who speak falsely hide behind a curtain of more lies and treason. And we see it and allow it.
The good news is that dishonesty, let’s call it what it is—treason, is being challenged. The deceivers and dissemblers attack those who demand truth, but more and more of us need to unite behind a single phrase and challenge those who dishonor themselves and the country. Let us say to them, “That is a lie and you know it.”
The Cost of Dishonesty and Distrust
The Treasure of Trust and Honor
Honesty demands responsibility for one’s thoughts, words, and actions. Thoughts, words and actions are joined and speak with a single voice. People trust one who is honest, and the words and life of this one have power. This is the treasure given to one who is trusted.
Lying is costly. It can destroy lives, affect a country, but one thing is certain, it affects a person’s credibility and their ability to get things done. Lies are often spoken about another person, but the words come from the liar, from his or her consciousness, so the lies say more about the liar than they do about the one the liar and lie condemns. I see this, can you?
Lies may be designed to chip away at a person’s credibility and to light a fire under one’s base supporters, but it is the liar’s pants that are on fire, and fires are hard to hide. We have simply accepted the glow in the night sky and the smoke that obscures our vision in the day. No more.
Lying is no longer acceptable. It is not a part of the Constitution or the life of an individual with personal integrity.
Take A Stand
Here is the stand I take, and I would love to know that I am not alone, that you stand with me. Lying, false statements and treason are no longer acceptable. Gone are the days of treasonous government officials. No more “I misspoke,” no more “alternative truths.”
How will this come to be? Through the people we elect, we will establish a new standard, and once again stand on the values of honesty and integrity. I expect a candidate I support to not only speak the truth, but to challenge lies even if the lies support his or her election.
Friends, our elected officials reflect our attitudes and beliefs and what we consider acceptable. Remember, each candidate has one vote. We as a people have many, and I am convinced that if we accept responsibility for what we have allowed, we can change our country.