“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” ~ George Orwell (pen name of Eric A. Blair) (June 25, 1903 to January 21, 1950)
Eric A. Blair was an English journalist, essayist, and novelist. He is best known for his satire Animal Farm (1945) and his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). He was a democratic socialist, and he was a fierce critic of totalitarianism.
[Source: personal knowledge; dates and biographical information partially from Wikipedia; accessed August 13, 2010].
His writings contain cogent critiques of the editing of history and of the slippery use of language.
The George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language (the “Orwell Award”) was established in 1975 by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). Recent winners include Amy Goodman (co-founder of Democracy Now!) (2009), Jon Stewart and the cast of The Daily Show (2005), and Seymour Hersh (investigative journalist) and Arundhati Roy (writer) (both in 2004).
[Source: Wikipedia; accessed August 13, 2010].
Are we living in an age of universal deceit? Well, we have “spin.” We have numerous examples of public officials not being truthful. When I was in college, one of my professors used the phrase “The Big Lie” to describe lies told by American leaders during the Vietnam War and Watergate eras.
Journalists such as Amy Goodman “speak truth to power.”
Truth telling is the antidote to deceit and lies.
When I was dredging my memory for this quote, I was searching for variations such as “in a cynical age, hope is a subversive act” but couldn’t find any documented uses of this phrase.
The problem with truth telling is being able to remember that one person’s truth is not another’s. Thus it is important to not merely tell the truth but to understand that the fact that it cannot be applied to all is what verifies that we are individuals. The tension between my truths and yours are where we are different people.
Politicians lies are what they are because they want to express the will of many people under a simple slogan in an effort to reduce many into one uniform group. Obviously politicians also lie to get what they want but I’d argue that a homogeneous group is easier to accomplish selfish goals with because you are less challenged and there is less to answer for when you don’t have to spend a lot of time assessing how to keep them happy. I wouldn’t say that the modern day of lies is much different from the past in terms of intent. But I do think that people are rewarded more often and better today for their lies than they would have been in the past.
Truth is harder to stomach. It is impossible to please everyone with the truth (often even yourself) but with regard to taking action–individual truths offer us much more valid data to react to and work with.
Hi C. R. Lanei, thank you for your comments.
Agreed, that “people are rewarded more often and better today for their lies” and that “Truth is harder to stomach.”
It’s perhaps easier to look the other way and pretend that everything is OK.
However, I do believe that journalists such as Amy Goodman and Seymour Hersh are doing essential work in revealing lies we are told.
Sure, my truth is different from others’ truths. Interesting, how my quoting a precept of Tibetan Buddhism in an earlier post ties into this.
“The fourth dignity is inscrutability, or a skill at evading the pigeonholes and simplistic definitions that might limit the warrior’s inventiveness while fighting for his or her moral vision [truth].” Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia, by Rob Brezsny (page 159).
All the best, Andy