“Oh! What a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive!”
– Sir Walter Scott
Marmion, Canto VI, XVII
Deception. We see it everywhere, every day.
Shady business deals.
Corrupt political schemes.
Little (and not-so-little) white lies.
Facades, “fronts,” masks, that hide our true selves from others.
Deception. We hate it. And yet, we harbor it – and flaunt it – every day, in so many ways.
It begs the question: Why?
The 2016 Merriam Webster dictionary defines deception as,
“an act or statement intending to make people believe something that is not true.”
That is – deception is a word or work that intends from the start to mislead others.
From the outset, a deceiver intentionally desires to lead their colleagues, friends, associates, public, or others, to a wrong conclusion about themselves, their motives, and/or their actions.
Perhaps the definition only muddies the waters – and begs more questions.
Why would someone intentionally seek to lead others to a wrong conclusion?
It sounds insidious – and it is.
And – going one step further – why do we stand for it?
Why do we let our businessmen, our politicians, our religious leaders, our educators intentionally lead us to the wrong conclusions – and put up with it without so much as a peep of protest?
I believe strongly that it is because we live in a society and culture that does not even know it is being deceived.
How can this be?
Our dictionary gives us the answer. Look at the definition again:
“Deception: An act or statement intending to make people believe something that is not true.“
In order to know you are being deceived, you first have to know what is absolutely true.
You can “deceive” a kindergartener into believing that 5 x 5 = 30. How? Because that five-year-old doesn’t yet comprehend that there is an absolutely true answer to the mathematical equation.
Friends, we live in a world today that doesn’t know what absolute truth is in almost any situation.
Morality? It’s all relative.
Human dignity? Depends on your religion…and age…and mental and physical capacity.
Beauty? It’s all in the eye of the beholder.
When we live in a society where relativism reigns and absolutism is abhorred, the knowledge of truth that is so necessary for the identification and exposure of deception is conspicuously and tragically absent.
And when truth is banished, it leaves a vacuum.
An empty space.
But it doesn’t remain empty for long.
Deception creeps in…
Spinning tiny, innocuous strings of doubt….
And with no absolute standard of truth by which to recognize the deception, the webs grow…
Until we find ourselves caught. Unable to get out. Unable to be free.
Because deception erodes freedom.
There is much talk in America today about the erosion of freedom, and what we can do to stop it.
I have an idea.
Promote truth in a world of lies.
Break the webs of deception with the works of integrity, truth, and honesty.
Deception. It may be much of our culture’s status quo –
But it doesn’t have to be my status quo.
Be a web-breaker today.
It just might change the world.