Why are we afraid of the Truth?

I read a post today titled Why Kids Do Drugs. The point of the article is contained in this passage:

Kids do drugs because they realize that adults have lied to them about it. If they are to discover the truth, they have only one course of action: Do drugs.

Yesterday I heard a story on NPR in which children were asked what they thought about drugs. Each child parroted back, with conviction, all the same false information I believed at their age. They said things like “you’ll die” and “you’ll lose all your friends.”

What will these kids do when they find out it’s not true? Drugs. When it is discovered first-hand that drugs aren’t so bad what, then, what will these kids do? More drugs.

Of all the things kids are told about drugs, the truth is blatantly omitted. Why? Because people are afraid to publicly say anything about drugs that isn’t 100% negative. They’re afraid of having their words twisted and their reputations ruined. And these fears are justified because society is terrified of the truth.

Why are we afraid of the truth? When did it become unmentionable?

Wouldn’t telling kids why drugs are harmful and why people use them preempt loads of rebellion and costly lessons? Wouldn’t satisfying their curiosity in a positive way prevent them from satisfying it negatively? Instead of making them learn through trial and error, why don’t we tell them what they’re going to learn?

This web of lies doesn’t stop kids from doing drugs. It scares them and fills their minds with nonsense. When they finally learn the truth they also learn to distrust those who’ve lied to them. Namely, their parents, teachers, and authority in general.

The issue of drug education is just one example of socially endorsed and propagated lies. We spend our early adult lives unlearning the lies we’ve been fed about sex, money, history, religion, and life in general.

Want a good job? Better put on your lying pants (or at least your partial truth pants) because the last thing you should use during an interview are candid, spontaneous answers. You’d be smart to memorize answers to common questions beforehand, especially anecdotes about your leadership abilities and group work skills. Total honesty is a liability, it shows a lack of preparation.

Consider mass media. It’s primarily fantasy; elaborate lies that lead kids to believe in a false reality, interspersed with advertisements telling them they need various products to cover their inadequacy.

This reminds me of a quote from Fight Club that rings eerily true for members of this generation.

We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.

You have to wonder how we got where we are. Has lying always been so prevalent? Is it ingrained in the human mind? Are we really better off denying the truth?

To be serious, lying isn’t always malicious. There are many scenarios where lying is permissible, even desirable. It’s occasionally necessary for the sake of decency; a free market can’t operate unless some form of deception is permitted; and many people are happy being lied to, especially if the lie is pleasurable.

Lies can’t be completely avoided. The problem is lies that form the “official truth”, lies that everyone goes along with. The truth shouldn’t be forced on people, but it should be available to people who need it.

We’ve reached the point of lie saturation and society is beginning to re-balance itself. The fact you’re reading this article is evidence. Blogs offer something big media can’t: they have a monopoly on truth. The individual writer isn’t bound by the bureaucracy, financial, and legal obligations of a large organization. With minimal expense, one person can tell the truth and anyone with a computer can hear it.

And people are dying to hear it. They’re craving it. They’ve been denied the truth their entire lives and now they’re searching for it. They’re just waiting for someone brave enough to say it.