Truths and lies

Posted: April 8th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: education, Estonia, politics, thoughts, university | No Comments »

Two different media stories have almost monopolised Estonian public discussion lately: the opinions of Jaak Aaviksoo regarding the need of the state to hide some truths or even lie for self-preservation purposes and the more recent brouhaha surronding possible doping use by Estonian cross country skiier and two-time olympic medalist Andrus Veerpalu. In addition to that I became aware of how easily malicious rumours can spread, when Tallinn Law School (where I work) became target of misinformation campaign this week. All those seemingly different things have one thing in common: they relate to truth, and acceptability of lying.

Speaking the truth is closely related to trust and transparency. Governance needs trust and transparency to be democratic and legitimate. Professional sports need the same values in order to preserve the notion of fair play and to attract interest of supporters. It would be difficult for me to place trust in an educational institution or people involved in higher education that resort to lies and dirty tricks to achieve their goals.

In the long run honesty is still the best policy, although in the short term some people might think that desperate or extraordinary circumstances merit spreading of lies. These people are wrong, because the short term lies create long term distrust and we need to have a society where there is less distrust and more trustworthiness.

Stable and prosperous democracy can in my opinion be built only based on mutual trust and trust of important state or private institutions. It is a shame that some people in our society still are willing to sacrifice these things for personal short term gains.

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