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    Pila Mulligan, 4/25/09

      A visitor to the group recently expressed an opinion that being untruthful was a necessary skill in the real world.  The visitor was not present in a subsequent session where the discussion progressed from the topic of being truthful to stealing and killing.  I wonder whether his opinion would have persisted (saying that all of the above were necessary for worldly success.)  Many people have as little concern for stealing and killing as they do for truth, including many people we may like to think have higher values.  In some government and business leadership circles, honesty is not the best policy, and theft and violence as policy are discussed in a thinly veiled context, if not openly.   It is an unfortunate fact of history that violence holds an elevated status in the realm of foreign policy, and there are corresponding domestic policies of both government and business.  Ignoring truth and embracing theft and violence are connected.  After that first step is taken -- after one decides not to be truthful -- the path to lower steps on the ethical scale is open.

        Ending violence is a daunting task.  It may seem simpler and easier to just fight fire with fire, especially if you have stronger force and strategy.  But sometimes, as a civilization, we need to work on the task of ending violence, not just winning with it.  And before we can do that, we need to embrace truth.  Whether it is in planning a business strategy, or analysis of a military situation, truth is an essential tool.  Without it, the grounds for planning and the plan's results are likely to be more confused.

    Gandhi.jpg    Gandhi's vigorously truthful plans succeeded in obtaining the end of the British Empire in India.  “The term Passive Resistance does not fit the activity of the Indian community during the past eight years. Its equivalent in the vernacular rendered into English means Truth-Force. I think Tolstoy called it also soul-Force or Love-Force, and so it is.”  Satyagraha (or, truth in action) was the name Gandhi gave his approach.  “In the application of satyagraha, I discovered in the earliest stages that pursuit of truth did not admit of violence being inflicted on one’s opponent but that he must be weaned from error by patience and compassion.”  “The Satyagrahi’s object is to convert, not to coerce, the wrong-doer.”

        Gandhi used the Hindu term ahimsa for non-violence (a fundamental principle of Satyagraha.) 
    Wikipedia says Ahimsa is “a Sanskrit term meaning to do no harm” – – that “is closely connected with the notion that all kinds of violence entail negative karmic consequences.”  The first of the Five Precepts of Buddhism is a commitment to abstain from killing, as Stim's sessions have discussed.  It is a prevalent moral idea in many religions (e.g., “thou shall not kill”.)  Some scientists theorize that evolution compelled early humans to recognize how social living requires empathy (i.e., a community is better able to survive if it embraces compassionate ethical precepts.)  The human community is still learning this lesson, and embracing truth is a first essential step.  History shows a gradual curve of progress toward peacefulness.  Violence is civilization's big problem.  Truth is an essential ingredient in the remedy.    

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