“Ballad Of A Thin Man”, Bob Dylan, from the album “Highway 61 Revisited”, (1965)
“Deceivers are the most dangerous members of society. They trifle with the best affections of our nature, and violate the most sacred obligations.” George Crabbe 1754-1832
So, a spoiler to save the disinterested from wasting their time. This post is mostly a polemic against deception and the routine practice of it by those in positions of influence and power such that their deceptions influence the behaviour and beliefs of the innocent.
It is an appeal to authority to support my own opinion about the dangerous or even deadly influence of deception by secular and religious authorities in our polite progressive society.
“Disceavers” (usage ca 1526, New Testament Translation) … the spelling and grammar are old but the message was (and is) unchanged from “The Pistle of Paul unto Titus The First Chapter“.
Regarding “The epistle of Paul to Titus” we are, perhaps, more familiar with: ” 7For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain,
8but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, 9holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.
10For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.
12One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, 14not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth.
15To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.” (Titus 1:7-16 New American Standard Bible)
My favorite Idler has some interesting “treasures from the attic” in his latest post, namely: “The Chinese drawing masters were very strict (in the days before the destruction of their civilization). Any sign of an attempt to “fix” would be punished, audibly. Mistakes were punished, too; but trying to conceal them was understood to be the worse evil.“
And also, aligning with one of my own treasures from the experience of blogging for over 4 years now … namely: (we bloggers) ” … must fight each temptation to replace, revise, amend. Leave margins for later comments. For the first thing is to think and write, without error, in the classical, linear way (staying “inside the box,” never straying). Later they may look back, and see all their stupidities clearly. This will make them less inclined to repeat them.”
It would seem that our thoughts on “cover-ups” and “hiding or spinning the truth” are more or less congruent, perhaps because we have both experienced similar organizational “attempt(s) at erasure … and as we ought to know, dishonesty loves to hide … Should a mistake be made, it must be flagged, then corrected in the margin, in plain view. No tricks“.
Now, deception is another name for “lying”, and is Lucifer’s stock in trade, his primary tool. His other name is “Father of Lies”. The first big lie was what he told Eve in the garden, thereby destroying our trust in God for all generations.
Notice a few things here. After the big lie, when the deception becomes clear in 20/20 hindsight for Adam and Eve, when they hear God walking in the garden in the cool of the evening, rather than run to him, they run away. “Kids???? Where are you?”
Rather than acknowledge their sin, confess it, and jump into the embrace of God’s merciful love, they hide. Rather than trust in our infinitely good and merciful GOD, they have become afraid of him.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains what’s going on here: “Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s command“. This is what man’s first sin consisted of. All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness and mercy.
But Lucifer was the first and greatest deceiver. This first big lie sucked us out of paradise and lost us God’s loving presence. It appealed to our desire for more power and more wisdom and some unspecified “ascendancy”. Every deceiver since the beginning has been a child of Lucifer, a child of the Devil, an Antichrist”.
And we, the gullible marks of this perpetual con game are easy targets for every huckster and spinner and politician and leader and writer and talking head “since Christ was a Killick in the Jewish Navy” as we used to say, back in the day, when referring to “forever”.
Anyone from the Wardroom was suspect until they proved otherwise by demonstrated competence. Thankfully the Petty Officers and Chiefs really knew what they were doing and protected the Hands from the worst problems most of the time.
In that environment, there were always a significant number of “Subys” fresh out of Royal Roads some of whom indulged in “spin” or “cover-up” or even the blame game. They were my first introduction to “Deceivers”.
Those sorts could get you killed if allowed to run free. Most of them were weeded out but some were promoted up the line for whatever reason and eventually made their way to Ottawa, “the Hill”. So “deceiving” has been a real NoNo most of my adult life. Now, in old age, I find most, or perhaps all, of what comes out of the media and our leadership is some form of spin and deception. And just like in the days of my mis-spent youf, if it goes on long enough its gonna get someone killed.
So, this is for real, not a figment of someone’s imagination: “10For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.”
I have found from experience that “Deceivers are (indeed) the most dangerous members of society”. Not only do their lies lead to serious problems but they also often serve to protect and perpetuate the success of the liars.
This category of practitioners … practicing upon our credulity with the bald-faced intention to delude … includes what seem to be many of the brightest members of our “nice” “polite” population, and virtually all those at the level of Director and above, in most bureaucracies and organizations, those who have been most “rewarded by this world”. Deception rules, and it is destroying our world and our society.
To illustrate that the most important virtue is honesty I am going to quote from a wonderful little book by Mark Manson called “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k, A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life”:
… There’s a bluntness to Russian culture that generally rubs Westerners the wrong way. Gone are the fake niceties and verbal webs of politeness. You don’t smile at strangers or pretend to like anything you don’t. In Russia, if something is stupid, you say it’s stupid. …
… But as the weeks wore on, I got used to the Russian frankness, much as I did the midnight sunsets and the vodka that went down like ice water. And then I started appreciating it for what it really was: unadulterated expression. Honesty in the truest sense of the word. Communication with no conditions, no strings attached, no ulterior motive, no sales job, no desperate attempt to be liked.
I remember discussing this dynamic with my Russian teacher one day, and he had an interesting theory. Having lived under communism for so many generations, with little to no economic opportunity and caged by a culture of fear (and dishonesty and distrust), Russian society found the most valuable currency to be trust. And to build trust you have to be honest. That means when things suck, you say so openly and without apology.
People’s displays of unpleasant honesty were rewarded for the simple fact that they were necessary for survival—you had to know whom you could rely on and whom you couldn’t, and you needed to know quickly. But, in the “free” West, my Russian teacher continued, there existed an abundance of economic opportunity—so much economic opportunity that it became far more valuable to present yourself in a certain way, even if it was false, than to actually be that way.
Trust lost its value. Appearances and salesmanship (spin) became more advantageous forms of expression. Knowing a lot of people superficially was more beneficial than knowing a few people closely. This is why it became the norm in Western cultures to smile and say polite things even when you don’t feel like it, to tell little white lies and agree with someone whom you don’t actually agree with.
This is why people learn to pretend to be friends with people they don’t actually like, to buy things they don’t actually want. The economic system promotes such deception. The downside of this is that you never know, in the West, if you can completely trust the person you’re talking to.
Sometimes this is the case even among good friends or family members. There is such pressure in the West to be likable that people often reconfigure their entire personality depending on the person they’re dealing with.
Manson, Mark. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (pp. 167-170). HarperCollins.
So we have built a society of deceivers, liars, and frauds. We have built a society that rewards dishonesty and deception. and it is slowly killing us all. So, what’s the fix? Sadly, I don’t see any fix this side of the grave. This world protects its own and if one is not “of this world” the focus has to be on the next. This world is just one night in a bad hotel.