We live in an age of “spin”. Perhaps average people don’t necessarily lie all the time, but it’s pretty common for the truth to get “fashioned” for various reasons. This has made it impossible for any of us in our entire society to know what is true and what is not and that is bad news for everyone.

The following are made-up examples, but they represent real ones:  A group called People for Peace is funded by gun manufacturers. Another group called Freedom For Everyone is funded by anti-gay, anti-abortion supporters. A group called Safe Energy Futures is backed by the coal industry. If you don’t dig, and dig hard, you might never know that at the bottom of these kinds of groups are people whose beliefs are the exact opposite of what the title seems to imply they are. Real examples: Dow Chemical tells you it is about improving lives while it is dumping untreated toxic waste into our rivers. BP tells you it is looking into clean energy while it is in the middle of paying for the worst oil spill in history. Spin doctors are called in to “re-build the image” and do damage control. We are awash in this every day.

Smaller scale groups can do the same kind of misrepresentation. A college draws fewer students and is hemorrhaging money. It has to downsize its program and cut faculty but gives out publicity proclaiming it is focusing its energies on a “more elite student body” to offer “greater concentration in their training”. It doesn’t say that it had no choice. It doesn’t say that it can barely sustain its programs. We have universities bringing in specialists to “update” specific  curriculum and when they do what they were hired to do, and the existing faculty doesn’t like it, they get fired for being successful.  I know of three such cases in specific universities the last 15 years.

Don’t Be Fooled By “Spin”

All of this is to caution you, dear readers of Jeanie’s blog, that what you see, hear or read may not be what is truthful. You may find that a presentation or a promotional item isn’t real — it’s just spin. It could be that you jump in only to discover for yourself later on that what was reported to be grass is actually just a photo of grass.

I am big on telling the truth because it makes life easier. If you are scrupulous about being truthful, even in small ways, taking care to choose the right words, people will come to believe you and trust what you say and who you are. If you “fudge” the truth, to make yourself look better than you are, or if you “embroider” the truth thinking it will build you up; if you only tell some of the story, knowing full well that leaving out specific parts of it will create the wrong impression in someone else’s mind, you are, basically, lying. If you get known as a liar, your reputation is dead. Even if lying (or, perhaps, “putting a spin on the truth”) works for a while, sooner or later as people get to know that you are all talk and not much substance, and as they discover your promises are worthless, they will distrust you, and that is an enormous price to pay.

Yes, people step on each other every day in an effort to “get ahead”. Sometimes they force others out through unfair competition, sometimes through backdoor deals, sometimes through cronyism and nepotism, and sometimes through deliberate manipulation of both word and deed, just to win what they think is the prize (typically more money but sometimes more prestige). In the end, however, people can easily tell over time what has depth and what is shallow, what is open, honest, truthful and reliable and what is not. They can literally feel it and will choose honesty whenever they can.

Some Things In Life Are Black and White

Don’t ever take the surface presentation of anything or anyone for granted. Dig a little. When you know the truth, tell the truth and insist that everyone you deal with also tell the truth. Some things in life are black and white — like the truth. Objective reality can be seen and agreed upon by everyone. Water is wet, rocks are hard, wheels are round and there is something called truth that is ABSOLUTE, DIRECT and UNDISTORTED.  In your life, do not make arrangements behind the backs of people who have trusted you. Do not make alliances after bridges have been burned. Do not cut corners, short-change people or deliberately leave out crucial information to be deliberately misleading. You will end up hurting your own reputation, which is the exact opposite of what you were seeking to do.

Those who live by the truth can’t be touched by that which is false. They are protected by their own honesty and integrity.  They can afford to be transparent, above board and straight-forward. They have nothing invested in trying to manipulate what is. In the end, they rise to triumph without any effort.

Don’t Resort to Half-Truths

Singing and the teaching of singing require truthfulness. You cannot lie to students about their abilities or progress. You do not, however, have to be hurtful in your telling of the truth if you think before you speak. If you deliberately lie to the students to “build them up” or to appease someone else, or to comply with some required obligation, you are doing them a disservice, but you are also doing the same to yourself.

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