"Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest." ~ John Stuart Mill
Veritas Est Non Grata
Column by Alex R. Knight III
Exclusive to STR
Twenty-five years ago, in 1987, the rock band Fleetwood Mac recorded a song with a chorus sung by composer Christine McVie that went, “Tell me lies, tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies….” It was as apt of a sentiment as could be for that despicable era of militarism, conformity, worship of authority, and “Just Say No” sanctimoniousness. I was an 18 year old high school graduate that year, and I hated every minute of it. I wanted the polar-opposite values of the 1970s back in the veriest way – replete, for that matter, with the far more agreeable catalogue of Fleetwood Mac songs from that decade.
Alas, as the Rolling Stones once counseled, time waits for no one. And it sure didn’t wait for me. Today, at 43, I find it totally apropos – if upsetting -- that the lyrics to that anthem from '87 were sung in McVie’s falsetto female voice.
So many people, were you or I to ask them whether or not they preferred to be told the truth and dealt with honestly, would respond immediately in the affirmative.
Yet, seldom is this the case, I’ve found, in practice.
Contrary to our commonly held romantic notions about good trumping evil, and truth prevailing over lies, the reality is all too often far less glowing. The most attractive women don’t vie for the man of honorable intent and high intellect, but for the scheming user – the pedestrian con-artist who again and again repeats his pattern of deceit with the willing, doe-eyed cooperation of his conquests. He’s normal, they think. He fits in. And yes, he lied to me . . . but they’re such sweet little lies . . . .
It seems to me after long experience that people in general don’t really want the truth. They only want that which comforts them. They have no desire to actually be right – only to feel right. And this is, after all, the only reason government and politics exist in the first place.
Why else do people vote, attend political rallies, make monetary contributions to political campaigns (above and beyond what is already extorted from them in taxes!), and praise bureaucrats as if they were rock stars in some kind of a public popularity contest?
Believe me absolutely when I say that my view of truth is nothing if not Doestoevskian: I would rather live with it above all else, no matter how painful, or difficult to accept. And I speak from the standpoint of one who has on numerous occasions, and continues to this day, to pay the emotional cost of that dedication. I would still have it no other way, regardless.
It’s why I’m a Voluntaryist.
But for the vast majority of the public, the title of this essay holds true. Translated from Latin into English, it reads, “Truth is Not Welcome.”
Until, that is, there remains no other option but to face it. And dire though it may sound, that day is now approaching on horseback. Apocalyptic sounding, perhaps, but . . . well . . . also true.
There’s a line from another Fleetwood Mac song that says, “Rumors make bad lovers.” Just like lies and other untruths. Like any hollow charade you want to name.
This includes government, and the idea that a voluntary society can’t function.
And that veritas better become grata – and soon. Time is short, and again, it won’t wait.