From the desk of Roland Rocchiccioli – 5 November

November 5, 2023 BY

Back in the old country: Like my father, Pinocchio was born in Toscana (Tuscany). The wooden marionette was, through my papa, my childhood link between Italy and Australia. Image: SUPPLIED

It is a simple concept. If what you espouse is not the truth, then it is, by definition, a porky; a prevarication from the paths of veracity; a lie!

IN uncomplicated language, the dictionary defines lying, unambiguously: ‘saying or writing something that is not true in order to deceive someone.’

Perhaps it was ever thus, and, down through the eons, those holding public office have lied to the public, consistently and with impunity, in order to protect their sinecure; to maintain their hold on power; or to achieve a Machiavellian outcome. In this age of rabid social media there is more likelihood the lie will be exposed to a greater multitude. Obfuscation has become a political art-form.

It has been argued, the greater the lie, the further it travels. Often times, the public is more believing of the lie than it is of the truth.

Clinical psychologist, Dr Judith Paphazy, contends, “Current society has been conditioned into accepting things which fit more closely with their views of the world.

“What we call moral values and ethics seem to be on the decline; certainly, we behave in a less ethical manner.”

The accepted code of honesty is ferociously unambiguous. There is no provision for interpretation. The code necessitates being truthful, sincere, forthright and, unless professional duties require confidentiality or special discretion, candid; straightforward and frank; furthermore, there will be no cheating, stealing, lying, deceiving, acting deviously, nor intentionally misleading another by omission, half-truths, or other means.

The theory is absurdly Panglossian; the application thereof, deeply problematic – and especially fraught when human frailty and unbridled ambition abound.

Now, governments try to excuse broken promises – which are by definition lies, spuriously arguing some promises are more serious than others.

The notorious assertions from former Prime Minister John Howard, who postulated his broken promises were explicable since there were so-called ‘core’ and ‘non-core’ promises, is a nonsense by any reasonable standard of acumen. More ominously, the practice is internecine. (aristocratps.com) It suggests a lack of moral and ethical political compass; an absence of regard; and a hubristic sense of political entitlement.

The Mr Howard hypothesis is so outrageously risible, it is not unlike children calling-out barleys in a chasing game!

As defined by the constitution, Australia is a Judeo-Christian country.

Our patron saints are Mary, Help of Christians, and St Mary of the Cross (Mary McKillop). Both women are, as it happens, Roman Catholic Saints.

Many politicians publicly proclaim their Christianity – some are born-again; however, and this is the religious conundrum: they are not daunted, nor do they feel constrained, by the ninth commandment: ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness’ – Exodus 20:16. Unequivocally, it forbids: speaking falsely in any matter, lying, equivocating, and any way devising, and designing, to deceive your neighbour.

In erstwhile times, it was a mortal sin to break a commandment.

More recently, in Victorian state and local governments, there has been a litany, some might say a plague, of half-truths, misinformation, disinformation, pejorative name-calling, and blatant lies. The expedient alacrity with which the anomalies trip from the silver-tongued is disheartening, and does not augur well for the future of our fragile democracy.

Altruism has, for the greater part, faded from our lives.

My father bought and read to me, in the original Italian, a version of Pinocchio – whose nose grew exponentially to the lies he conjured. If only it were possible to achieve in reality what fairy stories achieve in fantasy…

– and if wishes were horses, beggars would ride!

Roland can be heard with Brett MacDonald on 3BA on Mondays at 10.45am and can be contacted via [email protected].