Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Is sincerity truly dead?

Much has been said about the search for truth.

When I speak of truth, I’m not necessarily referring to some profound truth like the meaning of life, or some controversial truth in relation to politics or world events, like the truth behind the ZTE scandal (which we still don’t know) or the truth of whether there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq or not (apparently there weren’t any). I’m talking about truth in general. Or as they used to say in the old tongue, veritas.

Is it just me or are there more...hmm...wait. ”Liar” is such an ugly word...I’ve always disliked the word “liar”, and its connotation of malicious dishonesty and deceit. Let’s instead use the term “insincere people”. Going back, is it me or are there more “insincere people” today than there ever was? The problem is, nowadays, people whether they realize it or not, hardly mean what they say anymore, and we see it everywhere, from the headlines on this morning’s newspaper, to friends, colleagues, superiors, peers, subordinates, contemporaries, lovers, ex-lovers, politicians and so on and so forth. Everyone seems to be lying to everyone else, as if it was ingrained into the very fabric of our society.

Why do people lie? Mostly to gain some sort of advantage. Knowing the truth is an advantage in itself in facing life’s myriad situations, and this advantage is apparently not something most of us are will to share, or give up.

The irony is, while there may be a surfeit of liars today, there’s a scarcity of really good ones. It’s one thing if a person lies to your face, but if that person lies to your face and you know or learn later on that that person is lying, it’s a bit pathetic. If a person is going to lie, that person should at least know how to lie without being caught. And if you’re a keen observer of human behavior, it really isn’t that difficult to tell when a person is lying or not.

Returning to the topic at hand, is honesty passé? Is telling the truth still considered virtuous when hardly anyone does it anymore?

Let’s take Jun Lozada as an example. Allegedly a victim of abduction by the police, and whistleblower for the alleged massive kickbacks in the stillborn National Broadband Network project, he has lost his former way of life, that is, his job, his friends in the bureaucracy, his privacy, his safety, his peace of mind. And for what? The ZTE-NBN issue has already been supplanted in people’s consciousness by other issues, led by the rising costs of fuel, power and food. Those he has named as participants and beneficiaries in the so-called conspiracy to defraud taxpayers of millions of pesos still roam free and sleep soundly at night, while he lays trapped, so to speak, within the confines of LaSalle Greenhills or some other safe house, his life before he testified before the Senate nothing more than a distant memory.

And what about the rice shortage? Anyone who’s anyone in government used to claim not so long ago that we don’t have a rice shortage, and yet, the price per kilo of rice is going through the roof, NFA rice is being rationed, and people are lining up everywhere just to buy the cheaper, government subsidized rice. The government has still maintained that there’s no such thing as a local rice crisis, a laughable declaration considering that this phenomenon is global, due to overpopulation and reduced yields.

Some people still insist that global warming is a myth, and yet, local temperatures are breaking previous highs. While the Earth may has a history of warming up and cooling down on its own, unchecked release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere have, for all intents and purposes, upset the delicate balance that our planet has enjoyed for thousands of years and accelerated climate change with results that can actually feel.

What is it with people today?

Has truth become some trivial and inconsequential that no one bothers seeking it anymore, much less speaking it? Are we as a people, as a race, so incapable of stating flatly what is instead of wrapping up truth in a web of deceit, lies, and confusion?

Are we by nature more deceitful than we are sincere?

Call me pessimistic and cynical, but somehow, it seems that way.

Quite a shame really, and worryingly so, if you really think about it.

Once we’ve crossed the line to the point of being comfortable with and even believing our own gross falsehoods, our own undoing becomes inevitable. Lies stack up on each other, creating even more lies, breeding suspicion and mistrust, and eventually manifests itself in the future as some destructive force which will remain a mystery to us until it is too late.

Man, by nature, is a social animal. One need not be a sociologist to imagine what long-term damage a surplus of lies and fabrications can do to man’s complex social structures.

History has shown us that civilizations and societies have fallen from ills, one way or another, emanating from man’s deceit. It has happened before. It will probably happen again.

It won’t happen overnight though. It may not even within our lifetimes, or our children’s children’s lifetimes. But trust me on this. We’re on our way unless we see the error of our ways.





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