Four years ago (plus a few months) I was campaigning to elect Hillary Clinton, door to door in Lewiston. I found myself in a conversation with a new Mainer, perhaps his first vote, and he really wanted to know, “What’s the worse thing about Donald Trump? What’s the biggest reason you’re not voting for him?”
I decided pretty quick. “The worse thing is that he lies.” We can never trust what he tells us. He’s like a traitor, to us, the American people.
For me, once someone is a confirmed liar — President Trump or anyone – it’s hard to see the point of debating anything with that person or doing anything of consequence based on what they say. Everything after that is suspect. The value of every word is discounted.
When I meet somebody new it’s like starting across a footbridge that I’m not sure of. I begin my steps carefully, listening and watching for signs that the boards will hold, or that they might break. I am testing your word – the plank that undergirds our relationship – to see how trustworthy it is. And you are testing me; assessing my word.
Your word is really important. It’s how you show people what you’re made of, what comes out of you. Or it’s how you deceive and mask your true fears and desires. It’s how you create things, like agreements and all the benefits thereof. It’s also how you break things, like relationships and all the resulting destruction.
It’s no accident that Be Impeccable with Your Word is the first of Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements. He says it’s the most important one, from which the other three agreements are born. Alcoholics Anonymous allows a lot of leeway in how people recover but one of the few demands is “rigorous honesty.” Without that, other stuff won’t work. Even the Bible’s Gospel of John begins with: “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with god, and the word was god.” Words are kind of a big deal.
I get that politicians lie. Hillary has lied. President Obama has lied. Bush, Clinton. Reagan. Kennedy. All liars. I know this to be true because as a politician it is impossible to not get trapped in lies. The nature of the job requires the holding of secrets. This is because in politics the timing of revealing things is often critical. When you hold a lot of secrets and when opponents are trying to trap you in lies, you’re gonna get caught in lies. It happens to presidents and all public office holders. Comes with the territory.
But this president doesn’t just get trapped in lies, he generates them. He has publicly lied over an estimated 25,000 times. At last look he was at a clip of over 50 false claims on average per day. His repeated lies about the election results are eroding our country.
This article wasn’t supposed to be about Trump’s lies. It was supposed to be about something way bigger than that; the fabric that gets woven when we can trust each other’s words. President Trump is simply too good of a glaring example of how lies tear apart our community fabric.
What I’m trying to write about is YOUR word. And how powerful it is. I’m encouraging you to value your words and not throw them around carelessly. I’m encouraging you to read The First Agreement of Don Miguel Ruiz’s book.
High quality words that people can stand on; that’s how we build trust and knit communities.