By David Hegg
It is the 5th century B.C. Greek philosopher Plato, who gets the credit for both creating and promoting what has become known as the “noble lie.” In “The Republic,” he blatantly declared that not all persons are created equal. He put it this way: “When God made you, he used a mixture of gold in the creation of those of you who were fit to be rulers, which is why they are the most valuable. He used silver for those who are to be auxiliaries, and iron and bronze for the farmers and the rest of the skilled workers.” In this way, he made racism look beneficial.
His learned conversation partner, Socrates, explained the usefulness of the noble lie when he said it is “… one of those falsehoods … one single, grand lie, which will be believed by everybody, including rulers, ideally, but failing that, by the rest of the city.”
And so, the “noble lie” was born. Since the time of Plato, those in power have used it as a means of controlling the thoughts, beliefs and actions of others. By means of a grand lie that actually incorporates some truth, rulers have been able to shape the behavior of those who, in reality, have no access to the information necessary to overrule what they have been told. And so, they go along with the lie.
The only problem is that noble lies are not noble at all. They are actually tools of treachery. The elites who form the lie are pursuing an agenda that can only be achieved with the help of the populace who must believe it.
Sadly, the “noble, but not so noble lie” is alive and well today. I only have to write one word to prove it: COVID. It has become crystal clear that we were told things the tellers knew were false. We were commanded to do some things and not do other things by those who knew their demands had no factual basis. Numbers were manipulated into scary statistics and millions of us just went along, believing the lies out of fear of the unknown. We trusted those who were “in the know” and later found out the ones at the top were just telling us what they thought would placate us and make us more manageable even as they pursued their own power agendas.
I could also mention climate change. Remember when it was “global warming?” Then, as actual scientific history debunked the “warming” part, the elites rushed in with “climate change.” And once again, we were told the lie that unless we give up oil, gasoline and natural gas we will be guilty of ruining the Earth. And, this just in, the U.N. has asked Americans to cut way back on eating meat in order to save the planet.
The noble lie is all around us today. It is a prime ingredient in much of our marketing and certainly the political propaganda that will soon be filling our mailboxes, social media, and the commercial spaces in our favorite TV shows.
But here’s the greater problem. We’ve been so deluged with noble lies of all sizes over the years that we are more prone to believe them than attempt to validate them. This is especially true if the noble lie is coming from someone we like and want to believe.
Too many of us are addicted to noble lies because they are really much more than lies. They are movements and causes that raise in us an almost religious fervor. They also provide us with a sense of belonging by providing the basis for like-minded association. And therein lies the real danger of the noble lie. It replaces reality with a lie that appeals to us for all the wrong reasons.
So, what are we to do? Initially, we must realize that noble lies tend to shield us from what is really happening. They focus us on the macro ideas of the ruling class in a way that is meant to distract our eyes from what is really happening all around us.
Right now, America’s financial foundations are gravely threatened by reckless governmental spending as we live under the lie that the government is responsible for everyone’s well-being. Right now, America’s intellectual future is being undermined by those who no longer believe in absolute truth as we labor under the lie that truth is relative, non-binary.
Right now, the safety of America’s people is being eroded by policies that have eviscerated our defense forces while leaving our borders open to all comers as we are ruled by the lie that military might and closed borders should not be our priorities. Right now, in California, crime threatens our businesses, our cities, our families and our very lives even as prosecutors operate under the lie that non-prosecution will bring about a better society.
Right now, in California, the ability to find, purchase, and afford homeowners insurance has become a huge deterrent to home ownership as we are told the lie that things are better now than ever. Right now, California is facing a $68 billion budget shortfall, and we all know how Sacramento will attempt to sugarcoat it all while passing along the bill to the rest of us while telling us California is the best-run state in the Union.
And so, we can expect another series of noble lies. But actions have consequences, and lies ought to be pointed out, and liars made to pay. That’s what elections are supposed to be about.
Someone has said in a democracy the people get the government they deserve. That being true, let’s stop electing liars, especially those who continue trumpeting the lies they’ve been telling for so long. Noble lies really aren’t noble.
What we need is some good old-fashioned truth, and people who are courageous enough to deliver it.
Local resident David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church. “Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays.