[June 14, 2020] Today is Flag Day in the United States. The Flag symbolizes all that is right with America and represents those who have chosen a successful way of life – more successful than any other. But it is not perfect. Honor, integrity, protecting the weak, standing against evil are attributes that allow us to overcome that lack of perfection. So why is it that when we live in such a time that so some leaders will lie and do it often?
Before I answer that question, there is something that must be clarified. It is not just “some” leaders that lie; all of us lie. We are encouraged to lie by other leaders and to distort the truth, hedge what we see, and omit certain elements to mislead. Sometimes leaders inadvertently encourage us to lie because doing so is accepted and commonplace. Other times leaders encourage us to lie and do so purposefully for reasons I wrote about a few years ago (see link here).
Leaders lie for the same reasons we all lie.
- They do it to win arguments, gain status, impress others, and get what they want.
- They use language to bend and twist the world into delivering what they think is necessary. Such a skill is valuable; it works.
- They are obsessed with honor that is more important than safety, freedom, or belonging.
- They gain popularity and attract fans to their cause and their personality. It’s thrilling to see people flock to you.
- Lying allows leaders to ignore their own problems and deficiencies. It enables them to avoid shame and humiliation when otherwise exposed to the world.
But practicing the lie is corrupting and can produce unintended consequences. One consequence is that people who lie will put their version of the truth above others. They are twisted into believing they are somehow better than others or that their ideas are superior. Why not, a leader will ask, doesn’t my thinking win every time?
If leaders took the opportunity to look closely at what they say, they would come to realize most of what they say is untrue. This view can be disconcerting. They will see themselves a fake and will not like it. Recognizing yourself as somehow deficient is disturbing. The way to overcome such a problem is to start practicing the truth. At least don’t lie. This skill can come in handy when one doesn’t know what to do (a common situation for leaders).
Enjoy the day, display the American Flag, and honor the Nation that has been a beacon of light to the oppressed and downtrodden. Tell the truth!