[The Lie]

“There are no devout men left,
fidelity has vanished from mankind.
All they do is lie to one another,
flattering lips, talk from a double heart…
those who say, ‘In our tongue lies our strength,
our lips have the advantage;
who can master us?'” (from Psalm 12)

“The two basic qualities, on which the common life of humans rests, well-wishing or the good will—that is, the readiness to fulfil for the other what he may expect of me in our relationship with one another—and loyalty or reliability—that is, a responsible accord between my actions and my explicit mind—have gone. They have disappeared so completely that the basis of the common life of humans has been removed. The lie has taken the place, as a form of life, of human truth, that is of the undivided seriousness of the human person with himself and all his manifestations.” (Martin Buber, Good and Evil, p. 9)

“Where semblance [or imitation] originates from the lie and is permeated by it, the interhuman is threatened in its very existence. It is not that someone utters a lie, falsifies some account. The lie I mean does not take place in relation to particular facts, but in relation to existence itself, and it attacks interhuman existence as such. There are times when a man, to satisfy some stale conceit, forfeits the great chance of a true happening between I and Thou…Whatever the meaning of the word ‘truth’ may be in other realms, in the interhuman realm it means that men communicate themselves to one another as what they are. It does not depend on saying to the other everything that occurs to him…but on his granting to the man to whom he communicates himself a share in his being.” (“Elements of the Interhuman,” in The Knowledge of Man, p. 77)

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