57. Lying is it becoming an accepted part of American culture?

The ability to think critically and protect oneself from falsehood and to tell the truth – was once taught in American schools, as well as within the American family, and in the neighborhood was a way of life. Many times a handshake was as good as a contract written by an attorney. To be seen by others as a liar was something that was beneath the standards of individuals. It appears that in America today too many individuals as well as organizations will lie in order to accomplish goals. What is even a larger danger to the individual and our nation is that many Americans are not disturbed that others who lie to accomplish their desires is okay.

Robert Feldman, the author of a new book on lying, says “There’s always been a lot of lying,” “But I do think we’re seeing a kind of cultural shift where we’re lying more, it’s easier to lie, and in some ways it’s almost more acceptable.”

Cheating is more common today than ever. The Josephson Institute, a nonprofit focused on youth ethics, concluded in a 2008 survey of nearly 30,000 high school students that “cheating in school continues to be rampant, and it’s getting worse.” In that survey, 64 percent of students said they’d cheated on a test during the past year, up from 60 percent in 2006.

It is a shame, but it also seems to be a fact that liars get what they want. They avoid punishment, and they win others’ affection. Liars make themselves sound smart and savvy, they attain power over those of us who believe them, and they often use their lies to rise up in the professional world. Many who lie have fun doing it. And many more take pride in getting away with it.

There are many types of liars. Some who lies publicized themselves as not liars only people that are misunderstood. An argument is put forth by some that an untruth is different than a lie. A few of the words that are used by an individual that claims he/she does not lie tells much about an individual who claims that he/she is a truth teller. Words like misinterpreted, misjudgment, misunderstood, misconceived, misreported and representative and now “fake news.”

The fact of the matter is that every lie is an untruth, but not every untruth is a lie. The printed word as well as the spoken word at times can be misreported, misunderstood as well as misrepresented. With this being true the spoken and printed word can also be manipulated by the lie teller. It is my opinion that a good part of the problem we have in America today becoming a culture of liars is that the individual as well as the public is at fault having lowered their standards.

There is the fib, that may be a half truth and the white lie. These types of lies one might call a convenient or kind lie. A child that is brought up in a very strict formal type of home may tell a fib from time to time to protect himself against a domineering parent. Unfortunately, if too many fibs are told by this young person, it may become a habit which the young child will take with them for the rest of his life. He or she has seen it protect him/her many times and really not damage another that much if at all so it becomes part of his or her life strategy.

I must admit that I have told what is referred to as a white lie many times. According to the Merrian-Webster dictionary a white lie is a lie about a small or unimportant matter that someone tells to avoid hurting another person. Before I retired, I was head of manufacturing for a very high line womenswear company. My wife’s friends would come to me with a garment that they had bought and asked me for my opinion concerning it. Just because I was in the industry did not make me an authority on what was good or bad concerning what my wife’s friends had purchased. This is true, however they thought I was. Because of this I might tell a white lie to them informing them that their purchase was a good one. At that time the truth of the matter might be that I thought the garment they bought was the ugliest thing that I’ve ever seen. In New York City, where I grew up we had a form of conversation called “schmoozing.” I believe the word is a Jewish street term. A good schmoozer was always able to find something positive in conversation. Being somewhat adept at schmoozing instead of telling a white lie at times I might say about the garment that my wife’s friend wanted my approval is that the color really looks good on you. This would work and I felt less of a liar.

Another form of lying is the use of embellishments. To embellish means: to enhance (a statement or narrative) with fictitious additions according to Dictionary. com. It is common for a company to train a salesperson to embellish. The salesperson by doing this does not feel that he/she is a liar when doing this. What the salesperson who is taught to go out and sell by the use of embellishments is doing is lying in every sense of the word. He/she is covering up the truth and misleading the client. To embellish has become a standard form of doing business in America today.
Back in the 1980s, one of the major news magazines ran a feature story on how we as a nation had a growing propensity to lie. The article was entitled “America A Nation of Liars.” Today, this inclination to master the art of deception has increased and been honed to even greater perfection. In our daily life one can hardly get away from this deception.

Most of the direct mail you receive is designed to deceive you, to the point you will open it? Didn’t that look like a real check inside? It may have been a real check but only if you spent that $100 check on at least $5,000 worth of the advertiser’s furniture.

We all have to eat so we have to buy groceries. Many of the products now display on their packaging something like “New and Improved” or “New Friendly Family Size.” This usually means it is a smaller package containing less of the product at the same price.

Then there is the Internet. Deception crouches at every click. Click the wrong box or don’t click the right box on some site and you may end up with an auto-ship that you don’t want. They are very hard to take off your account and many work with the use of an account draft. In order to remove the draft you might have to change your bank account as well as your credit card.

A more serious and the more dangerous types of deception we encounter are discovered at the government and political levels. Most of America believes that all politicians lie, at least sometimes. Just look at the approval rating of our Washington based politicians. Yet knowing this we go into the balloting booth and send them back to Washington. We have become willing to tolerate these lying individual. I guess we just expect it now and that is a tragedy. It has become a culture in America to lie at least some time to lie or just shield the public from the truth with the use of misinformation.


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