Not too long ago, there was a powerful country that most of the world respected. It was the country where those from all over the globe aspired to one day live. This country was called Acirema. Acirema was founded on the basic principles of honesty, respect and compassion for its fellow man. It was a land of opportunity and dreams.
Now that’s not to say Acirema was a perfect country. Far from it. People still made mistakes, some did bad things from time to time. But overall, it was a good place because those founding principles were strong and the vast majority of the population held firm to them.
But one day, a man decided that he didn’t like one of the founding principles of Acirema. Being honest, he slowly began to realize, wasn’t nearly as alluring as telling a lie. He started slowly, quietly, telling small lies that most wouldn’t notice. But eventually, the thrill of lying became so strong that he found himself unable to ever tell the truth. Thus, he concluded, that he was born to be a liar. It was unnatural for him to tell the truth. Lying wasn’t his fault, he determined. In fact, it was actually his way of being true to himself. To tell the truth would be telling a lie about who he truly was.
This man began to preach his lying lifestyle as the new, modern way of living. At first, he was shunned. The general population called his lying aberrant and they would not stand for it. But eventually, his lies started to gain momentum. Others began to experience lying as energizing. They began to preach the message that Truth Tellers were "old-fashioned", out of touch with the real world. They began to portray lying in a positive light whenever they could. Movies and television shows were created to glamorize lying. Books were written, conventions and parades were held to celebrate lying.
Before long, different brands of lying were being applauded. There were the “gossipers”, the “exaggerators” and the “truth stretchers”—those who enjoyed both telling partial truths while wrapping them in a bigger lie. They formed groups and associations, known as the LGETS (Liars, Gossipers, Exaggerators and Truth Stretchers.) The movement gained momentum and its members became so caught up in their lies that they began to lie to themselves.“This is how God made me!” they would proclaim. “I have no choice but to lie!”
But opposition still existed. Truth-Tellers fought hard against the movement. They preached sermons in churches that called lying in all its facets a sin. This outraged the LGETS. They wanted revenge. But knowing they would never change the mind of the older Truth-Tellers, they decided instead to take aim at their children. They infiltrated children’s programs, movies and TV shows. They wrote children’s books that glorified lying. They called Truth-Tellers "liarphobes"; because they knew that if they painted Truth-Tellers as fearful of them, it gave them power…and made Truth-Tellers seem weak and impotent. They told children that their Truth-Teller parents and grandparents were living in “yesterday’s world.” The way of the future, they preached, was lying. Soon, impressionable young people all over Acirema were convinced that they too were born liars.
But the churches fought back. Realizing that fighting a religious battle would be too difficult, the LGETS decided to focus on Acirema’s government. If they could lobby for laws to protect their lifestyle, they could force churches to bow to their lying whims. But government was filled with Truth-Tellers. And the Truth-Tellers did not want to grant special privileges for those who chose to lie. So the LGETS stopped using the word “privileges” and started using the word, “rights.” After all, everyone should have the right to choose to be a liar, if they so wish. Who was government to say people don’t have the right to lie? The government was fearful of being branded a regime that withheld rights of its citizens so it slowly began to consider these “rights” for liars.
Still, government wasn’t moving fast enough for the LGETS. So, to help move matters along, its members began to infiltrate the government of Acirema. They made their way into powerful positions—some by lying about whether they were liars or not. Telling voters they were “Truth-Tellers” to get their votes was okay, because it was staying true to their lying lifestyle, after all. They pushed for policies that called lying “normal” and “acceptable.” They even began to believe their own lies so much that they convinced themselves that lying was never a choice to begin with. It was simply “how they were made.” And if that’s how they were made, it was unfair for anyone to oppose them.
Once enough LGETS supporters were in power, they began to write new laws for Acirema that granted special privileges to liars. Liars, gossipers, exaggerators and truth-stretchers had the right to demand businesses, employers and schools bow to their lying desires. Anyone who dared to oppose or speak up against any form of lying would be fined, punished or even forced out of business.
After they got the government control they wanted, the LGETS turned its attention back on the Church. They began to file lawsuits against churches that preached any message against lying. Still, the Church stood strong. Then the LGETS remembered: “to change government, we had to infiltrate government. So we’ll do the same with the Church!” So that’s exactly what they did. They would tell lies to get hired as pastors, Sunday School teachers and evangelists. And once they were in positions of power, they began to preach that lying wasn’t so bad after all. In fact, they taught, that their thousands-years old religious tenets were actually misinterpreted or outdated. Did anyone really understand what the Scriptures were trying to say? By causing confusion in the church with their lies, slowly some of the churches began to accept lying. Eventually entire churches were built on lying. They incorporated some of the original Scriptural doctrines into their lying messages and formed an entire new facet of religion.
All the while, the other founding principles of Acirema began to erode too. LGETS members called on everyone within earshot to disrespect Truth Tellers. Compassion fell apart too, as liars reveled in the unraveling of truth. Little did they realize that their efforts to promote their lifestyle was slowly crumbling Acirema. But as long as their lifestyle became the new norm, little did they care. Eventually the LGETS got exactly what it wanted: the destruction of religion and the overhaul of government to meet their desires. What few Truth Tellers remained were forced underground. And Acirema was now the exact opposite of how it started. And it remained that way for decades.
But generations later, a young liar befriended a Truth Teller. Over the course of their friendship, she began to respect the Truth Teller. So much so, that she began to question the way of life taught to her by her lying father and gossiping mother. Even the exaggerations of her aunt and the truth stretching of her cousins seemed odd to her. Her Truth Teller friend invited her to his underground truth-based church. It was an amazing experience for her. She heard messages she had never heard before. Perhaps, she thought, lying isn’t the best way to live life. Perhaps telling the truth wasn’t so bad after all. Her friend and the church had a profound impact on her. She started telling small truths at first. So small that most wouldn’t notice. But inside, she realized that telling the truth felt better. It felt natural, right. And consequently, lying made her feel dirty, wrong. It now seemed unnatural.
So she began to teach her friends about Truth-telling. And her peers began to see Truth-telling in a whole new light. It didn’t seem nearly as bad as their parents had taught them. They questioned the laws they had been taught. They pushed back against their parents' lies and demanded to know more about truth. Perhaps lying really was a choice after all. Perhaps, it wasn’t the right choice to begin with.
And so, a movement began…