When Societies Lie Collectively

When societies engage in lying,  usually the lies are more dangerous than when individuals lie.

“Collective lying,” (not a formal term, but used for lack of a better term) is a problem common in many social structures:  families, organizations, departments, communities, countries, etc are all forms of social structures.  When societies lie, each individual in the society feeds on the lie and are more inclined to believe it.

This is common in many organizations: “We are doing a great job!” says the whole organization in unison, from the top manager to the new junior employee.  One might ask how they came to that judgment, the rhetoric starts pouring in.  When asked for evidence of the claims of grandeur, more false statements are given as evidence.  How can anyone face an organization (or any social structure) with the bitter truth when they are unable to face themselves with it? Every type of social structures has its own lies; societies, communities, even families.  Some  social structures are deep into lies.  Some lies are used as an excuse for complacency.  Other lies are used for convenience, material gains, and sometimes honor.

It is puzzling not being able to find much research or information on this subject.  Especially that humanity has suffered a lot because of mainly collective lies, and societies choosing the easy route of believing them, protecting them, and even dying for them.  History is filled with examples of attempts to cover the truth.  Ironically, many of the collective lies throughout history where also made in the name of religion. It is ironic because the most profound examples of leaders, who went against the whole world in refusing to run after lies, are prophets: Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed (peace be upon them).   All of them questioned social norms and lies of idolatry, discrimination, unfairness, and greed.  The Quran mocks those who blindly follow their elders and leaders: [But when Moses came to them with Our signs as clear evidences, they said, ‘This is not except invented magic, and we have not heard of this [religion] among our forefathers.’] Qassas:36.

So, how can one be immune from these social lies? There is no immunity.  The only solution is to honestly seek the truth, without prejudice or fear of being wrong.  So, one should dare to listen to all sides of the story, even from those termed as “evil” or “bad.” Just because the majority casts an “evil” label on someone does not make it true.  Another good place to start is to avoid the naive assumption that “since ‘I’ am on this side of an issue then it must be the ‘right’ side.”

“In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.” ― Bertrand Russell

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