It has been said that the head of the church of Donald J. Trump deserves the title of “Liar in chief” because journalists have counted over 36,000 lies he told as president. And a few more lies have followed since he was deposed and voted out of office.
This includes a new term that has entered our country’s vocabulary– the “Big Lie,” which refers to a very foundational falsehood, namely that President Biden did not win the presidential election of 2020. President Biden is not the president. The head of the church of Donald J. Trump (CODT) is.
But this has been disproven by countless judges (including a number appointed by Mr. Trump); and the congressional committee examining the January 6 insurrection; and secretaries of state who count votes, and even Trump’s former attorney general. AND it has been debunked by many witnesses in the White House who have testified under oath that they heard Trump admit he lost the election. Yet he persists in lying about it to the public. What are the consequences of big lies like that?
Hannah Arendt is held in high esteem for her studies on fascism including The Human Condition, The Origins of Totalitarianism, Eichmann in Jerusalem, and On Revolution. In a recent book containing two of her essays called On Lying and Politics, she alerts us to how there is an “ever-present threat to democracy posed by lying.” Democracy depends on some commonly held beliefs and truths. One might be that “all men and women are created equal.”
In her essay on “Truth and Politics,” Arendt observes that the survival of factual truth depends on the testimony of credible witnesses and on an informed citizenry. When facts are degraded into opinions, liars may even come to believe their own fabrications.
But something even deeper is involved when political leaders lie. Arendt tells us that cynicism is born of lies. The surest long-term result of brainwashing is a peculiar kind of cynicism—an absolute refusal to believe in the truth of anything, no matter how well this truth may be established.
Apparently “alternative facts” carry a price with them.
In addition, Arendt warns us that the result of a consistent and total substitution of lies for factual truth is not that the lies will now be accepted as truth, and the truth be defamed as lies, but that the sense by which we take our bearings in the real world —and the category of truth vs. falsehood is among the mental means to this end—is being destroyed.
This is what the mid-term election is about.
See Hannah Arendt, On Lying and Politics with an Introduction by David Bromwich (NY: A Library of America,, 2022), p. 47.
See Matthew Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times, pp. 101-108.
To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner image: Tattered flag. Image by Tammie from Pixabay
Queries for Contemplation
What does it mean to you to learn that lying is not just an offense against the truth, but also destroys “the sense by which we take our bearings in the world?” How does that apply to our post-truth politics and the media that supports it? And to the current election?
The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times
A stunning spiritual handbook drawn from the substantive teachings of Aquinas’ mystical/prophetic genius, offering a sublime roadmap for spirituality and action.
Foreword by Ilia Delio.
“What a wonderful book! Only Matt Fox could bring to life the wisdom and brilliance of Aquinas with so much creativity. The Tao of Thomas Aquinas is a masterpiece.”
–Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit
Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society
Visionary theologian and best-selling author Matthew Fox offers a new theology of evil that fundamentally changes the traditional perception of good and evil and points the way to a more enlightened treatment of ourselves, one another, and all of nature. In comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them.
“A scholarly masterpiece embodying a better vision and depth of perception far beyond the grasp of any one single science. A breath-taking analysis.” — Diarmuid O’Murchu, author of Quantum Theology: Spiritual Implications of the New Physics