Messaging, nuance, spin—are words used when truth is massaged to create a desired narrative and to influence (if not control) others’ reactions to what is being spoken of. It’s nothing new. Human nature predisposes us to manage outcomes to our advantage. Capitalism further exposes us to this dynamic as Americans are constantly being marketed to. The difference now is that the level of sophistication is rising, while the effectiveness of countervailing forces is falling.

Truth can become fuzzier the more it is parsed. Deceit is functional. There are costs to be avoided and gains to be made in its use—significant ones. (Are you seeing the slippery slope here?) Outsmarting the next person yields a win—truth, a loss. So we adopt today’s popular strategy: ‘Whatever it takes’ which aligns with an unshakable will to succeed.

Morality aside, here is the cost: If you tell a lie long enough, people believe it to be true, but furthermore if you tell a lie long enough, YOU believe it to be true. Trafficking in fiction loosens our grip on truth in general. If truth is irrelevant it soon becomes unrecognizable.

There is a different model which pushes against the erosion of truth—one that breeds trust and mutuality. It incorporates values that prevent slippage when an objective becomes over-inflated. It’s our choice—servant leadership.

“Goodness is about character—integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people.”

—Dennis Prager