JS Tip 446: The Importance of Truth, Part Three

From the Values Workshops: The Importance of Truth, Part Three


  • “Or tolerate those who do.”1


The Problem

Lying corrupts those who tell the lies. It warps their ethical base and forces them to sort through multiple versions of reality.

Lying corrupts those to whom the lies are told. It counters their understanding of reality. It forces them to doubt: “Is this true? Can this be true?”

Lying corrupts the institutions in which the lies are told. It destroys credibility. It slows exchange (because no one trusts one another).

A Response




When you hear what you believe to be a lie, ask, “What do you mean by that?” Ask for an explanation.  

Invite further discussion. “My understanding is . . . .” Lies survive only when they go unquestioned.

Be polite, but be direct. (The individual may not be lying; the individual may just be wrong. The difference is in the intent to deceive.)

But we must do something.


  • “Silence is consent.”2  



1      Part of the Cadet Honor Code at the United States Military Academy (and other institutions): “A Cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” Period.  

2      Sir Thomas More’s valid but unsuccessful defense before Henry VIII.  


Mark Brooks