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Authenticity, Lies and Politics

Why do people believe clear untruths?

There has been an outpouring of love and respect for the late Queen Elizabeth II this last week, It is interesting to look at one of the outstanding reasons why.

As Queen and as a person I felt, like many, that she was always there. I am the age of her son, the new King, and in my mind she was always there. But that is not the core issue behind people's love and respect. It was her absolute authenticity and honesty that stood out as remarkable and almost unique.

Devoted to Your Service

On her 21st birthday she said, "I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.” That sounded a bit trite, something she might be expected to say, but no, she said it because she meant it. It was not a politician's soundbite but a heartfelt commitment to a life of service. It was a commitment she kept to her dying day.

Two Liars

It is such a shame that almost her dying act was to deal with two politicians who showed how much people respect the Queen as opposed to the politicians she stood above as Head of State. Johnson was renowned for being a liar and Truss appears to be ably following in his footsteps as Liar-in-Chief. It must have hurt the Queen to see these two as her Prime Ministers.

People have known that Boris Johnson lies for 30 years, he’s probably the best liar we’ve ever had as a prime minister. He knows a hundred different ways to lie.

Rory Stewart

What amazes me is the extent to which people were not just taken in by his lies but they accepted them as lies maybe because he said what they wanted to hear. They knew that and thereby encouraged him to go deeper in his dissembling. He ended up in a situation he could not get out of because people so wanted to hear his lies.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!

Sir Walter Scott

Honest and Authentic

This is what the Queen so understood, if you are honest and authentic, you need to remain so always. You cannot pick and choose how to be. She was from a privileged background and was quite open and authentic about that. She lived that life alongside her life of duty, I, for one, loved that authentic combination.

Above all, do not lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others.

Fyodor Dostoevsky

She never lied to herself, she knew who she was but she also knew who she wanted to be. The problem with politicians, such as Johnson and Trump, is that the they build an inflated view of who they are from the adulation the get from their supporters and from those looking to get something out of them. They build a picture of the past, present and the future that does not align with the truth but aligns with what they want the truth to be.

Politicians are Liars

OK, they are politicians and all politicians lie, such is the common belief, also the Queen had a privileged life and did not need to fight get where she was. That is all true but it hides what is underneath. The Queen's life of privilege meant she was always there but that she needed to show authenticity to be accepted she needed to fight to achieve that. The politicians, on the other hand needed to show a deep understanding of the needs and issues of the people they represented through brutal honesty, but that's not what they do.

When it comes to controlling human beings there is no better instrument than lies. Because, you see, humans live by beliefs. And beliefs can be manipulated. The power to manipulate beliefs is the only thing that counts.

Michael Ende

That is the point, lies are a way to manipulate people and the simple fact is that both Johnson and Trump have spent their lives manipulating people. In the end, though, it does not work and they end up crashing through the sheer volume and incredibility of their world of lies. This has happened to both of them and they both deserve the consequences they are experiencing.

There is beauty in truth, even if it's painful. Those who lie, twist life so that it looks tasty to the lazy, brilliant to the ignorant, and powerful to the weak. But lies only strengthen our defects. They don't teach anything, help anything, fix anything or cure anything. Nor do they develop one's character, one's mind, one's heart or one's soul.

José N. Harris

Truth and Honesty

Queen Elizabeth taught us all a great deal about truth and honesty, but the politicians, desperate to hang on to her legacy, hope that some of it will stick to them. But ordinary people, like you and me, can see authenticity a mile off. It cannot be created, it is just part of someone. The Queen was herself, clear, honest, dedicated, open, a role model that we might all aspire to.