Anyone who knows me will understand that I can be a bit of a stickler for the truth. I’m not exactly sure why: except that it gives an otherwise unfair disadvantage to some, whom I think are otherwise unworthy of that advantage. After all, much though marketing schemes across the Western World are built on skirting the issue of honesty as much as they can… being as dishonest as possible without outright lying… our entire economic system is built on mutual trust and reliability. Our science fiction and fantasy authors have built their fortunes on concocting a myriad of potential ends to our civilization, from killer bees to sharknadoes, from asteroids to global warming to nuclear holocaust: but I think what will really kill us will be much more mundane. The degree to which we profit from deceiving each other reaching global and harmonic proportions is much more likely to be the cause of our collapse.
That being said, I was fascinated to read two of the articles in this morning’s “Metro” newspaper here in Toronto. It’s free and available in subway stations, thus I usually read through it on my morning commute. On page 4, there was an piece about “Hard Life Living a Lie”, which described a University of Calgary study that came to the conclusion that “most of us would prefer to tell the truth than lie” (Metro News, page 4, 2014). I’m not sure they know the same people I’ve worked with in politics and so-called service, but we’ll leave that for now. A few pages later in the same issue is another article, entitled, “Hide the Ipad, Lie about Fast Food” (Metro News, page 15, 2014). It seems that although it might be “mentally taxing” to lie, if there are benefits, then it becomes worth it. Either that or if the liar considers those he is lying to to be sufficiently beneath himself, and if he “knows better” (as with kids and fast food), then that justifies the falsehood and makes it easier. But the author of the first study does say that he wants to study “psychopaths and pathological liars”, to see how they score on his tests.
I wonder if he puts politicians in the same boat. Do they lie because they enjoy it (or because they don’t know the difference) or because they’re trying to achieve a greater good for which the ends justify the means?
Consider our leadership here in Toronto. Our current mayor, as we all aware (across the city and the province and the world) is not known for his capacity to tell the truth. Any level of honesty is not what we expect from politicians, but Rob Ford takes it to a new dimension. Usually politicians skirt the truth in order to benefit their constituents, and indirectly themselves; Ford lies directly (or conveniently forgets) to save face unless incontrovertible evidence is brought against him. It would seem that in his eyes, the “greater good” for which he will consider the ends justifying the means, is his own personal popularity and reelection. I guess he considers the citizens of Toronto, his illustrious tax-payers, to be sufficiently beneath him that he “knows better” and this justifies his lies. He’s trying to keep us from the danger of fast food: or at least fast taxes. Even if those taxes make the city more livable for people other than the Fords.