Liars as Leaders? Transforming a Culture of Lies

"It's Time for a Truth-Telling Revolution!"


With the US Presidential campaign dominating the news, I am sadly reminded of the pervasive lying in politics and the twisting of facts for personal gain. Professional fact-checker, Angie Drobnic Holan, wrote in The New York Times, “All politicians lie. Some lie more than others.” She cited the percentage of times some candidates lied; it was astounding. Yet even more troubling to me is that so many of their supporters don’t seem to care.

I am exasperated that I can’t trust my country’s leaders to tell me the truth – and that fellow citizens don’t share my insistence on honesty.

Lying is not endemic to the political arena. Indeed it seems to be a cultural epidemic. “We're all liars, but lies are necessary,” writes Lucy Kellaway, Financial Times columnist. “The corporate world demands them. Indeed, it cannot function without them.”

It’s time for a truth-telling revolution! Let us overthrow the acceptance of a culture of dishonesty!

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." ~ George Orwell

Honesty is one of my highest values. It is so freeing to tell the truth – and to be able to trust that my closest friends and associates do the same. No guessing, no assumptions, no making up stories to justify our actions. “Just the facts, ma’am,” as Dragnet’s Joe Friday used to say.

Thirty years ago, I co-created a set of agreements to guide me in living a life of truth, acceptance, and gratitude,  My 2016 resolution is to consciously focus on one of these twelve Revolutionary Agreements each month. “I agree to speak my truth, with compassion” is my focus this month. Care to join me?


It starts with each one of us. When we speak our truth, with compassion, we are freed from the shackles of living a lie. Your own truth sets you free! When those around you notice your light of integrity, they are more likely to “come out” as their authentic selves. This is how we change our schools, workplaces, and communities: from the inside out.

Sometimes it may seem easier or more convenient to stretch the truth or to lie than to face the potential consequences. Yet my experiences of truth-telling over the past three decades have consistently revealed that the power of the truth is always greater than the reason for the lie. And the joy of being able to trust that my friends and colleagues are speaking their truth is worth every bit of effort to model it.

Returning to the political realm, our government is supposedly “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Who are we if not the people?! We will enjoy greater honesty in our government when more of us embody it ourselves and expect the same from our elected officials. Join the revolution!

By Marian Head, award-winning author, Revolutionary Agreements; Gratitude Journal for a Healthy Marriage; and The Suprasexual Revolution (with Barbara Marx Hubbard).


Showing 3 reactions

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  • Marian & Glenn Head
    commented 2016-02-27 15:09:52 -0600
    I read a comment posted on a share of this article. It repeated, “Everyone lies.” I challenge us to transform this, to become rEvolutionaries by modeling something different. Before Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile barrier, it was commonly accepted that it was physically impossible to run a mile in under 4 minutes. After he did so, others were able to do the same. I, for one, accept Gandhi’s challenge to “Be the Change You Wish to See in the World.” Let’s support one another to live our lives in truth, acceptance, and gratitude.
  • Julie Krull
    commented 2016-02-23 10:57:18 -0600
    Nice reflection, Michelle. Thank you.
  • Michelle Ellermeier
    commented 2016-02-10 07:28:35 -0600
    Every individual has a piece of the truth, regardless of political ideology. We have developed a culture of political persuasion via soundbites, hitting emotional buttons with 3 or 4 word sentences designed to block true discourse. May we have each have the courage to allow the wave of emotional reaction to pass over, to sit until we can listen and talk beyond the rhetoric.

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