Story is told of Abdul, a very cunning and interesting character, who lived in a certain African community. He always had multiple fights, physical and intellectual, with virtually everyone – though he was more intellectual in his approach. There was just one particular problem he had with the people in his community. It just seemed that none of them was ever willing to tell him the truth whenever he asked about or for something. It became somewhat of an uphill task to believe anyone’s word, even if they were telling the truth. So, he set out on a mission; to separate the truth tellers from the liars. He came up with what he considered the best possible, well executed trick.
Alas! “I will tell people I saw an angel, of course they’ll believe me since most of them treasure people who have “encountered” angels.”
So, he went out, like any road side preacher and got on with his masterclass idea. “An angel visited me last night, ” he started. By this time everyone got interested in what he was saying. “He has a message of warning for you! He wants to separate the sinners from the righteous, the liars from those who tell the truth,” Abdul continued. “But he needs you to undertake a simple test.” Indeed, it was a simple test.
“The angel is in a certain house he’ll show me, and he says that if you enter the house and you are able to see him seated on a chair, then you are righteous and always tell the truth. If you are not able to see him, then you are a sinner and always tell lies.” Abdul quickly got attention and every person, including the chiefs and the king had got this message. Of course, the house he said the angel would show him was his own and all the better for him (no one knew where he lived).
So, people lined up to adhere to the “angel’s” call. Every villager, starting with the peasants entered, saw an empty chair and whenever they came out, they shouted, “I’ve seen the angel” for fear of being branded as sinners. But of course, they were all lying. There was definitely no angel. Abdul knew that and how brilliant his plan turned out!
Next in line were the chiefs. In no way would they say they didn’t see the angel; they would lose the trust of the people. “Who is going to be branded a sinner? Not me,” they murmured. So just as the peasants, they said they had seen the angel. By this time, Abdul was just amused and shocked at how “devoted” these people were to their deceitful ways. The king’s most trusted bodyguard had watched all the drama unfold. So, he went and narrated the whole story and said that it would be his Majesty’s opportunity to prove himself to the people.
The king too was anxious to go for the test; but he couldn’t reject the calling of this “divine” being. He went in the house, saw an empty chair like the rest, and his head started boiling up. The king spent close to two hours in the house. Oh wow! He must have been conversing with the angel. Other angles must have descended, and a long important meeting must have ensued. But poor king, he was thinking of just what to do next. The room only had one exit. If it did have another, at least a backdoor of some sort, he could have used it, disappeared for a while and returned in a glorious welcome. But it just wasn’t possible. Surely, he couldn’t say he didn’t see the angel. What would people think of him as king? He now had to do away with his integrity, a trait that he was well known for, even beyond his territory. So, he came out and said he had seen the angel and from the deafening cheers from the crowd came exaltation, honor and praise for the king for being a man of power and truth.
Abdul had now gotten so disgusted by the behavior of everyone, he was really upset! Not even a single one of them would tell the truth? Even the king?!
This is how the world is today. There’s a lot of deception and very little truth. Is telling the truth that hard? There’s also a notion that telling a lie is sometimes necessary. When is that? Maybe that’s why society has become so accustomed to lies. Have you ever told a lie? Was it worth it? Do you think a society without lies is possible?