A large crowd gathers for the 74th annual Easter sunrise service on top of Stone Mountain Sunday, April 1, 2018. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The resurrection and the truth 

For every fact, there is a counterfact, and all these counterfacts, it seems, are a reasonable facsimile of the facts. Right?

So how do we know what to believe?

It’s a good question and one that’s been bugging me for a while now and more so as this Easter Sunday approached.

No, I am not confused about the resurrection of Christ. I believe he is risen, just as he said.

German authorities have detained the chief executive of Volkswagen’s luxury division Audi, Rupert Stadler, as part of a probe into manipulation of emissions controls.

Growing up, I was told I could trust him no matter what. Since growing up, I know I can because it’s been proved in my life over and over again.

What has me so distressed this Easter Sunday is too many of us are playing fast and loose with the truth and it doesn’t bother us one iota. We lie to get attention. We lie to avoid feeling discomfort. We lie to avoid getting into trouble. We lie to protect our children. We cheat on our taxes. We intentionally share fabricated news stories. A few of us lie just because we can.

It used to be our word meant something. Now, it seems, nothing and no one is trustworthy.

Just as I sat down to write this, a survey showing that dishonesty is common in our workplaces and schools landed in my inbox.

The survey, by online ghostwriting and proofreading platform EduBirdie, found that 73% of C-level executives and 63% of employees have admitted to academic or professional dishonesty.

When broken out by industry, legal professionals were most frequently dishonest (62%), followed by people working in technology (58%), education (41%), health care (29%), manufacturing (27%) and retail (26%).

Just this week, I read a story about doctors in five different states trading pain pills for sex. Another even pulled teeth from patients to justify prescribing them opioids.

Why does it matter?

Lying, in both our words and actions, is destructive on so many levels. Not only does it diminish who we are, it destroys relationships. It kills.

RELATED: Donald Trump calls Hillary Clinton a ‘world-class liar’

D. Gregory Sapp, a professor of religious studies at Stetson University, said that being involved with someone who is not trustworthy introduces an element of chaos — the unknown — into our lives and it becomes very difficult to trust that person.

D. Gregory Sapp is a professor of religious studies at Stetson University. CONTRIBUTED BY ESTEFANY ARENAS
Photo: Estefany Arenas

“Dante said that the worst part of hell is reserved for traitors,” Sapp said. “A traitor is someone who pretends to be on our side but, in reality, is working against us by working with the enemy. Traitors lie to us, and Dante realized that if we cannot live in relationships where we can trust others, we will always live in fear because we cannot know what is real and what is not.”

A person who lies or says one thing and does another is, clearly, not trustworthy.

“I imagine that, for most of us, we have had many people like that in our lives and, in many cases, we can simply avoid them and thus avoid any chaos they would introduce into our lives by being in relationships with them,” Sapp said.

That can be next to impossible, of course, in this day and age when facts, counterfacts, fake news and alternative facts are literally always at our fingertips.

But even in this new age of cellphones and video cameras that can record and make public our words and actions at any time, people are no more circumspect.

Our presidents are good examples.

President Donald Trump, talking about a border wall, said in January that “At the request of Democrats, it will be a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall.” According to PolitiFact, Democrats didn’t ask for steel.

And in June 2016, then-President Barack Obama had this to say about steel: “The steel industry is producing as much steel in the United States as it ever was. It’s just (that) it needs one-tenth of the workers that it used to.” PolitiFact said the president was wrong on both counts.

RELATED: Former Volkswagen CEO charged with fraud in Germany

There is a stark difference that begs noting. Trump has spouted so many falsehoods so regularly, pundits have labeled him a liar.

But neither he nor former President Obama are the only ones who have been proved to lie a time or two.

Each week, Gracie Bonds Staples will bring you a perspective on life in the Atlanta area. Life with Gracie runs online Tuesday, Thursday and alternating Fridays.
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A popular vegan vlogger, known for her years of praising a raw vegan diet, was forced to come clean last month about eating animal products after video was taken of her eating fish at a restaurant.

And on Monday, Martin Winterkorn, then-CEO of German carmaker Volkswagen, was charged, along with four other managers, with fraud in the emissions cheating scandal.

Prosecutors said that Winterkorn knew about the scheme since at least May 2014 and failed to put a stop to it.

All of us have told lies at one time or another and for different reasons, but we become liars when lying becomes a habit. According to Sapp, there’s an old saying in NASCAR racing that if you don’t get caught cheating, you’re not trying hard enough.

“I don’t think it was coincidental that Jesus called the greatest enemy of God — the devil — as the father of lies,” Sapp said. “God gives us order; the devil brings chaos.”

With Easter Sunday upon us, when the angel declared to the women at Jesus’ grave that he had risen as he said, Sapp said something else I think is worth remembering. Having a relationship with God instills in us a sense of security and trust that our world is ordered.

“Following through on one’s promises allows us to trust the one making the promise,” he said.

Whether you believe in a risen savior or not, whether you are the promise keeper or the promise giver, there is no better peace. I promise you that.

Find Gracie on Facebook (www.facebook.com/graciestaplesajc/) and Twitter (@GStaples_AJC) or email her at gstaples@ajc.com.

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