Why Truth Matters

Why Truth Matters

Most of us were taught not to lie when we were children. Our parents made an earnest effort to instill in us that it is not okay to lie – even if it is an easy way to get what we want. Why did they do this? Parents want their children to succeed and, if lying may help their children be successful (fiscally or socially), it would almost seem reasonable to let their children do so. As self-interested actors, we would expect our parents to understand that we are playing life to win.

We can assume that our parents taught us not to lie because they view it as wrong. So, to  understand why our parents taught us not to lie, we need to first answer a fundamental question: why is lying wrong? The answers seem obvious at first. Lying is not fair. It creates an unnatural advantage for the liar to capitalize on. People who hear the lie yield to its content. Liars are deceivers. They take advantage of our faith. The violation of this unspoken trust is an affront to, as Lincoln put it, “the better angels of our nature.” Our better angels can be heard when we choose to speak the truth rather than lie.

Telling the truth is one of the ways we preserve our better halves when confronted with moral dilemmas. For as far long as I can remember, my family, friends, coworkers, and teachers have preferred that I always tell the truth. They have demanded this, rightfully, even when a lie would hurt them less. Lies obfuscate reality and distance us from one another. The truth represents a path towards unity as it allows us to engage with each other’s hearts and minds in an unrestricted manner.

Every person who wishes to bring people together or simply earn the respect and trust of others should always tell the truth. It is the best path to success. It is better than lying because it holds no risk of being discovered false.  The truth, when always offered, cannot give way to damaging realities it is not concealing. No one has ever described a scandal as truthful.

Deception is the reason we, the powerless youth of Skidmore College, have an honor code that demands the best of us. Given that we are held to such a high standard, we expect our leaders to be so as well. To his credit, President Glotzbach has also held himself to the same standard. His words have rung true in a time that many of our own – international students, students of color, women, and our Muslim and Jewish communities – feel scared.

Our friends and family are scared because President Trump and his administration have continuously chosen to lie rather than to speak the truth. The President has chosen to misrepresent the American people. He has bent reality to suit policies that adversely affect those never afforded the opportunities in life that he has been granted. Administrative officials have repeatedly mischaracterized the people they are supposed to serve. The creation of the Office of Victims of Crimes Committed by Removable Aliens (VOICE), lauded by Trump in his recent address to Congress, makes this evident. It serves the lie that removable aliens are committing far more crimes than natural born citizens. There is no evidence to back this claim, yet the lie persists.

It is our obligation as humans to uphold the truth. We are compelled to lift up our disheartened peers and remind them that lies always give way to truth in the end. In our protest against President Trump and his administration, we must continue to shine the beacon of truth where they would instead let darkness fall.

Professor Pushkala Prasad’s Edwin M. Moseley Faculty Lectureship on the U.S. Commercial Empire

Professor Pushkala Prasad’s Edwin M. Moseley Faculty Lectureship on the U.S. Commercial Empire

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