This is the first post in what will be a series.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a political prisoner who wrote The Gulag Archipelago and was a strident opponent of the USSR and Communism, published his final letter to the Russian people in 1974, just prior to his exile. He told them to “live not by lies.”
What did that mean, this living not by lies? He told the Russians that it meant to reject conforming to that which was not true, no matter the strength of the totalitarian regime that told you to do so. “The ordinary man may not be able to overturn the kingdom of lies,” he wrote, “But he can at least refuse to be its loyal subject, and refused to be governed by falsehood.”
He said that a man who refuses to live by lies:
- Will not say, write, affirm, or distribute anything that distorts the truth.
- Will not go to a demonstration or participate in a collective action unless he truly believes in the cause.
- Will not take part in a meeting in which the discussion is forced and no one can speak the truth.
- Will not vote for a candidate or proposal he considers to be “dubious or unworthy.”
- Will walk out of an event “as soon as he hears the speaker utter a lie, ideological drivel, or shameless propaganda.”
- Will not support journalism that “distorts or hides the underlying facts.”
Solzhenitsyn went on to write, “This is by no means an exhaustive list of the possible and necessary ways of evading lies, but he who begins to cleanse himself will, with a cleansed eye, easily discern yet other opportunities.”
This reminded me of a recent Bible study I had with my girlfriend. We were reading Matthew 6, where Jesus said,
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”—Matthew 6:22-23
It is important to be very exacting in living not by lies. This doesn’t mean that we can’t tell jokes or have some fun, but it does mean that we cannot purposefully distort the truth. We cannot pretend that what is false is true. And make no mistake, that form of soft totalitarianism, wherein it’s not necessarily the all-powerful state, but rather media, universities, schools, and corporations—that is, institutional capture across the board—practicing Newspeak and compelling everyone else to Live by Lies, to engage in doublethink every day, is here, and it not likely to go away.
Consider some of the many lies we now see and are told to participate in: men have periods, that woman is a “he,” that man is pregnant, discrimination can be good, equity means treating people unequally regardless of contribution or merit, etc. The Human Rights Campaign put out a brochure telling women to call their vaginas frontholes so as not to offend transwomen, and men to call their penises “straplesses,” for the same reason. A man who raped his children was given sex-reassignment surgery at taxpayer expense, and this is good as it allows him to relieve himself of the mental anguish of being in the wrong body.
All these things you are told to accept, to at least be polite, to not be offensive to those around you, because what skin is it off your back? You are told to Live by Lies.
Commenting on Solzhenitsyn’s work, the British physician Theodore Dalrymple said in an interview,
“In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity.
To assent to obvious lies is, in some small way, to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control.”—”Our Culture, What’s Left Of It,” Jamie Glazov Interviews Theodore Dalrymple, Front Page Magazine, August 31, 2005
Such applies to more than just state-enforced communism, because it is the method by which pathogens of the mind are designed to infect and grow. So, though you will be persecuted for it, from light-and-airy snotty comments to losing possibly not getting the job you were hoping for, if there is any hope for the future, it exists when you Live Not by Lies.
“He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?””—Isaiah 44:20
With love, always,