LIES, DAMN LIES AND STATISTICS

How can you tell if a politician is lying?  His lips are moving.  19th Century  British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once said, “There are three kinds of lies;  lies, damn lies and statistics”.  His point was you can make statistics say whatever you want.  “Statistics never lie but liars use statistics”.  “50% of all liars use statistics”.  The many permutations are seemingly endless.  Personally, today I am more concerned with lies and damn lies, than statistics.  In many ways Canadians are very honest.  Readers Digest did an experiment leaving 10 wallets with $50 in them in 12 major cities.  They then watched to see if the finder would use the contact information in the wallet to return it.  Toronto fared the worst with only 4 of the 10 wallets being returned, but Moncton NB saw all ten returned to their rightful owner.  This experiment was conducted all over the world and no city matched Moncton’s honesty.   I guess I am glad that I don’t live amongst thieves, but sometimes it feels like I live amongst liars.  50% of Canadians have admitted that they have shop lifted at least once in their lives.  76% say they have cheated on a High School test.  85% of young people say they have lied to their parents about something.  Of course who knows who how accurate these statistics are…those surveyed could be lying,  and there I go again using statistics. You all know what that makes me!

This summer I bought an outboard motor from a marina just over the border in Minnesota.  I mentioned to the owner I was going to have to pay PST and GST taxes on it when I brought it back across the line.  He immediately offered to write the bill of sale up for less than half the purchase price.  I told him that I was not prepared to do that and I would just assume pay the extra taxes than lie to a border official.  He looked genuinely perplexed when I asked him, “Sure it’s another $250, but what price is virtue?”  Oh, don’t get me wrong, it pained me to pay the extra taxes at the border and I entertained the thought of how easy it would have been all the way home.  I really could not have been discovered.  I paid in cash.  I would have the bill from a ‘reputable’ dealer.  It would have been the perfect crime.  Muhahahahah! Muhahahahah!

Someone once discribed integrity as, ” who you are when no one is looking”.  It is easy to be honest when you are trying to look good or when you know you might otherwise be discovered.  It’s another thing when we know, or at least think, we can get away with it.  I’ll spare you the statistics, but the number of people who cheat on their income taxes, say nothing when undercharged at the cash regisiter or lie to their bosses (“I just called in sick …”) is staggering.  (Take the survey and see how you stack up.  http://www.rd.com/your-america-inspiring-people-and-stories/how-honest-are-you/article28518.html Be honest now!)

Proverbs 11:3  says, The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.  There is a very powerful principle here.  We can let integrity be our guide.  My young-adult children are now discovering that life presents them with many moral dilemmas.  We talk openly about the peer pressure they face almost daily.  When they ask how they decide what to do in a given situation, I always give them the same advice.  Decide every morning that whatever choices you are faced with that day, you are always going to ‘try’ to do the right thing.  In doing so we have actually made 10,000 decisions in advance.  Truth be told (irony intended), we almost always know what the truth is, we are just not sure we want to tell it.  Many times the truth comes with a price tag, but in the greater scheme of things, it is never too expensive. 

No man can purchase his virtue too dear, for it is the only thing whose value must ever increase with the price it has cost us.  Our integrity is never worth so much as when we have parted with our all to keep it.  Metamorphoses 43 BC -17AD Roman Poet

 

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