Lies, Misinformation, Misdirection, Apathy

by Marilyn Muir, LPM AFA

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Lies, misinformation and misdirection are rapidly transforming our society into a no-man’s land. Between the half-truths, the outright lies, the spinning of facts and news, the diverting of attention and the attendant knee-jerk responses, what has always been difficult to do now flirts with the impossible. How do we view reality and the news in an unbiased and truthful format so we can make legitimate and thoughtful political decisions? Our Founding Fathers did their very best to form a nation and an opportunity for its citizens to choose their representation based on truth and justice for all citizens. How can that occur if information becomes misinformation and leadership is based on misdirection? At the core of any nation is the spiritual essence of its people. Spirituality positively expressed operates from truth, from an internal sense of fairness and equity for all, from a desire to advance the cause of all and to benefit the all. As a country, we are all in this together. We are one people, with the ability to control much of our destiny.

However, every front has a back, a flip side to its nature. Human expression has positive characteristics we usually choose to enumerate. But that same human expression has a dark side that we usually try to avoid discussing. That dark side does exist, even for such an inspirational quality such as spirituality. Spirituality itself does not harm another in any way, but the misapplication of the principles of spirituality can take on many negative expressions. Here are some examples of how negative spirituality would express.

Religiously it might express itself as one supposedly spiritual person or group imposing its will on another person, group or on society itself. Throughout the centuries and millennia, religious practices have helped develop us from our primitive origins to billions of individuals in thousands of established religions. Survival was the name of that early game, superstition and ignorance were common – but there was an innate sense of the spiritual, and our ancestors did their best to pursue the goal of aligning themselves with what they did not always understand. Unusual rituals, beliefs, and general philosophy developed and permeate our current society in thousands of ways. Such a philosophy tends to stay stuck in past principles regardless of the evolution of thought, philosophy, circumstance or disproving facts. Because the principles at the core of the belief are so interdependent, you will hear much rationalizing and justifying as the adherents try desperately to keep their whole body of information intact. 

For another example, group philosophy and religion are largely dependent on a founder, a leader, a spiritual avatar or a hierarchy of leaders whose edicts are sacrosanct. The legitimacy of that figurehead, alive or in spirit, is essential to the quality of that belief system. If that figurehead is deluded, egotistical, power- or control-hungry, or has a messiah complex, the whole of the belief is tainted. The need to preserve that particular core can lead to extreme behavior on the part of the followers, with the blinded leading the blind. No other truth, no rationale or reasoning can reach those who will not hear. Notice I did not say cannot, I said will not. There are many who have no physical hearing limitations. They choose not to hear and that is an act of will. It is also an example of the flip side of spirituality because it does not elevate or further the human spirit.

Should a belief system or a religious leader fail, the effect on the believers is devastating. Many are unable to get past the grief to build a new belief system based on emerging principles. When we are tested for our beliefs, we have a choice to learn from what didn’t work in order to develop new beliefs that will work, or to crash and burn in a belief bonfire, never to rise from the ashes, disillusioned or jaded in our outlook. Plus, we can turn against the subject of our original belief whether that be a person, a group, or a deity. Life is difficult at times and we use our spiritual essence and faith to help us navigate those difficulties.

What about an example of spirituality that is not about religion? Spirituality is not just about religion or philosophy. To me, spirituality is the glorious revelation of a human being who has traveled successfully through life with all its tests and difficulties and has come out of the journey with a good heart and a positive outlook. That person is enjoyable to experience because they move through life with intrinsic faith in the evolving human spirit.  My favorite description of a spiritual person is the Alcoholics Anonymous concept of “walking your talk”.

What about lies, misinformation, misdirection and apathy? They are the flip side of spirituality as well. If we look at the dark side of spirituality, we see the qualities of delusion, confusion, deception, often with an attendant loss of faith. Chasing a pipe dream is delusional in nature and leads to disillusionment.  We can use lies, deceit and subterfuge to attain our own personal dream, but at what cost? Our spirit!

There are so many ways to lie, directly and indirectly, and I think we all lie to some degree. Self preservation is strong in humans. There are the little white lies when you want to surprise someone or not hurt their feelings. There are lies of omission where we don’t quite tell the truth. There are the half lies that are part lie and part truth. There are the “out of context” lies, where words never expressed in that manner are placed in someone’s mouth. There are self-protection lies. There are lies based in the rationale that it is wise to protect others. There are lies to preserve our way of thinking and way of life, and not even proof or the truth matters. There are lies by those whose way of life is to lie. There are lies by those whose personal well-being defines their concept of truth. If it isn’t about them, it just doesn’t matter. There are lies about all sorts of subjects from embarrassment, to greed, to power, to political expediency. The interesting recent political lie is the rewriting of history. 

Another form of lie, which is more difficult to recognize, is what I call misinformation. If I knowingly tell or circulate what I know is not the truth, that becomes a lie and I become a liar. If I circulate what I thought to be a truth, discover it is a lie and do nothing to resolve the lie, I am tacitly lying or agreeing to the lie. It does not matter if it is intentional. If it is not the truth, it is a lie. You know all these email forwards that are going around. I make an attempt to check them out for accuracy and veracity before I forward. If I find out later that I was in error, I “fess” up and correct my error whenever possible. Will I heal all that the propagation of my inadvertent lie caused? Probably not; but I am not a liar. I don’t want to be a liar, ever. So I take the time to fix those I discover. I choose to operate from truth.

What about misdirection as a lie? Politically this is a major weapon in the hands of those who know the lie but act on the lie, and then do an incredible tap dance to defend the lie. A good example over the last few years has been to attack the patriotism of those in disagreement. America has a strong sense of patriotism. If Americans even think someone is being unpatriotic, we react. Those who rely on misdirection have found a powerful weapon, but it is based in lies.

Let’s just say I question the war for whatever reason – which thinking, reasoning citizens of all shapes and sizes do on a regular basis. How in the world does that make me unpatriotic? If I decide I don’t like lettuce it does not mean that all farmers should attack or question my loyalty.

If I can misdirect your attention, I can short circuit hundreds and thousands of minds from dwelling on the actual subject. I have successfully eliminated the topic of discussion and branded another human being unpatriotic, disloyal, and can use the ultimate weapon “non support of our troops”. I must know that 24 hours every day, that broadcast and re-broadcast reinforces the misdirection and the lie it tells. I need to clearly identify those who misdirect to keep my wits about me and not allow any other person or party to hijack my mind.

On last point to make is that of apathy. The scariest thing we as a people can do is nothing, to allow and accept such lies, misinformation, misdirection, rewriting of history, and the like to stand as truth. We are a spiritual people at our core. If we do nothing, we will kill that internal spirit that characterizes our country. There will always be those who misuse their humanity and their citizenry. They are called the “poor in spirit” and will always be with us. It is our job to make sure they don’t run the country into the ground. We must act from our spirituality as individuals, to speak our voice, cast our vote and demand integrity and truth. Apathy is the greater enemy. Let someone else do it because I’m too busy, I’m not educated politically, no one will listen to me. No one can listen to you if you are silent. We need to speak up as people, from our hearts, using the gift of our reasonably educated minds.

Life would be amazing if we as a people and all humans everywhere operated from that spiritual center. How do we do that? What does the concept of spirituality need to succeed? We need transparency, honesty and integrity.

Published by EZine online October, 2009, republished with slight editing.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.