The Damage that Liars Do
by Peter Hyatt
Here is an ancient account that was touched upon in a sermon yesterday. The "Sovereignty of God" was the focus: the brothers of Joseph had done incredible evil, but it was part of a greater, long term plan of which life for both his family and Egypt in large, was spared from horrific famine. Within this long term 'strategy' is a small point or 'tactic' that is worth examining.
The small detail:
Joseph's father indulged him, which is never healthy for a child. By the time he was 17, he was not about working, but walking amongst his older brothers, sharing his dreams with them, while wearing a very expensive, and eye-catching coat.
They bristled with envy. Besides the lesson to every indulgent parent, there are lessons of Statement Analysis for us to observe.
They took him and sold him into slavery, profiting off of the young man's life. To satisfy their burning envy (emotion), they were willing to destroy Joseph's life. (At first, they considered murder, but that would not be "moral", so they decided to sell him into slavery, to, you know, give Joseph his life, while financially profiting off of him. He was likely well fed and strong and would bring full price for a slave. This, too, could be used to silence the guilty conscience, reminding themselves how they are not murderers. They were responsible businessmen who made a business decision, since Joseph didn't appear to be one of good worth ethic. Perhaps, even, they could tell themselves: 'We teach him a lesson.'
Deception begins with self. This is why those of harsh judgement towards others eventually fail in analysis, as the inability to discern truthful statements harms their record.
Yet, to ignore human nature's bent towards deception and its 'moral cloak' is to be just as imbalanced.
Joseph was beloved of his aging father so they took his fancy expensive leather coat, and dipped it in goat's blood and handed it to the patriarch.
Will they lie?
Note the deception first, and the consequences of deception upon the victim, next.
Consider: would they dip the coat in goat's blood and say to their father, "A wild beast has killed our brother, Joseph!"? This would be a direct fabrication of reality which, in deception, is rare. They would like to accomplish this while maintaining the luxury of telling themselves what good, moral men they are: they don't lie. This is a strong insight into human nature.
"And they took Joseph's coat and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood. And they sent the coat of many colors and they brought it to their father and said, This we have found, know now whether it be your son's coat, or no."
Regardless of translation chosen, we may step back from the minute detail and see the plural: no one wants to step up, singularly, and lie directly.
Note the "kid" of the goats would also make for a nice celebration banquet, and not be wasteful of the environment or their resources. These are good, 'moral' men, with the moral 'high ground.'
Note "your son" and not "our brother", to further distancing themselves from their guilt.
Please note that the deception is via missing information, rather than the difficult direct lie. They let their father come to a false conclusion, while avoiding telling a direct lie. Human nature lies most often in this manner, allowing itself to say "I didn't lie."
By using the plural pronoun, the human nature's little 'distancing trick' is to distance an individual from personal guilt; as if to dilute it by spreading it around, like a school boy who says, "Everyone was doing it!" as if erases the line between right and wrong.
"And he knew it and said, It is my son's coat; an evil beast hath devoured him. Joseph is, without doubt, rent into pieces."
Now, they withhold the truth via their silence and allow the old man to suffer:
"And Jacob rent his clothes and put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned for his son many days. And all his sons and daughters rose up to comfort him but he refused to be comforted; and said, I will go down to the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him."
Nothing could comfort him, even the support from a large family. Jacob said he would suffer every day until his own death.
The liar is intent upon self satisfaction, even if this satisfaction is nothing but emotional: the liar will destroy a life for this sole purpose.
The liar uses deception to satisfy self, covering the guilty conscience with a multitude of excuses and psychological distancing. What one man or woman might not do, the group can accomplish.
The liar destroys the lives of others.
Consider the many "fake hate" and false criminal reports of our day.
In interviewing such, I have found a consistent streak:
Each liar was willing for an innocent person to suffer incarceration just to satisfy the liar's desire.