Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
Reflecting more on yesterday’s post, “On Who Fills the Void/the Rainbow Maker,” (a discussion of the power–and purpose–of insatiable need), what came to mind was this famous quote attributed to former CIA Director, William Casey: “We’ll know our disinformation campaign is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”
Besides the obvious intent of Casey’s words and how the truth of them is played out in what deceptive press reaches ears (and traps minds) today, as in all time, is the power of “disinformation,” aka lies–often despite indisputable evidence to the contrary.
It reminds me, again, of how fundamentally needy human beings are to both believe certain kinds of lies and/or to crave them, you might say, for nothing takes root without receptive soil.
Merchants vs Mercenaries
When it comes to advertising goods, a topic in my first post, we want to believe the sexy ads with the cool music, or the shiny, beautiful things that look, sound, smell, taste, and/or feel best, and that bring us the greatest return on our investment.
When it comes to lies conjured where politicians gather in the secret rooms of power, it gets more complex, more insidious, because the deception-crafters there not only have to sell their (ideological) wares but also destroy, not merely out sell, the competition. This is because the power of truth is always far more persuasive when once it surfaces (hence the “secret rooms”).
Whereas the merchants along the street want more customers, the merchants in locked chambers want more souls, as it were.
This knowledge comes to us from the incubator of history.
The deceiver there went right for the jugular in a clever conversation with Eve, displaying the ancient, “one-two-punch” of persuasion, i.e., speaker rebuts counter-argument and adds his/her “truth”–appealing to base human nature, in this case, as yet tempted human nature. Eve begins…
…but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:3-5, NIV)
Like the handsome snake in the Garden that seduced Eve, lie-mongers have to get the words right, first, to counter God’s (Truth-teller of truth tellers) first right words because humanity waits for words to show us which way to go.
Some words lead to truth, love, light, joy, eternal satisfaction. Others, to a darker consciousness and if in them truth is twisted, obfuscated and/or obliterated long and intensely enough they lead down a path to perdition.
We know more now, of course, about the psychology of persuasion, specifically as concerns politics, e.g., how we tend to believe more readily what confirms our own bias and/or what more enlightened education and wisdom we believe we possess to date (which is why it is especially important to insert propoganda into the schools).
However, in the political context it gets really complicated as well as dangerous in some situations because–and here’s more about human nature–opinion is often marinated in pride.
Were we to abandon our causes, we would suffer twice: “our truth” would wither and our sense of intellectual self-efficacy as well, however misled or skewed it may be.
Discerning the merchants’ lies, on the other hand (which we don’t mind so much as long as the products deliver), only outs us the goods after failed usage. We can maybe even get our money back.
The risks associated with abandoning the politician’s lies might further alienate us from the power and money mongers, the hip, slick, and coolsters–and all the shiny goods they advertise. Even those (policy) goods that, some claim, will solve existential threats!
And should we decide to speak out against the lies, depending upon how dangerous the political landscape has become, we might also risk more.
On many levels.
Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) offered this famous thought on deception: “O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive!”
Here is one more from another famous source filled with many more comments tracing the tragedy of deception back to its inception:
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8, ESV)
But how to know the difference between truth and lies?
The same source cited just above has many answers.