People of the Lie

Peck, M. Scott, M.D.  People of the Lie.  (1983).  New York:  Simon & Schuster, Inc.

“This is a dangerous book.  I plead with you to handle it with care.  One meaning of care is love. “

This is not a well-known book by Scott Peck.  It was referred to me in the 90s from a friend Tom Heuerman who used to write a blog with very authentic and personal issues.

“Evil people are easy to hate. The battle to heal human evil always begins at home.  And self-purification will always be our greatest weapon.” This is a very important statement.  If children and students do not have a supportive home life, the schools and ultimately the organizations they work in, will see the resulting behavior.  Many times, the parents/guardians themselves did not receive a support system to pass onto the next generation.

As Ruby Payne has said, “Stop scolding or excusing students, teach them.” This also reminds of the French Proverb:  Children need models more than critics.  So, maybe the question for adults is, ‘what are we modeling for our children?’  Some additional questions that occur to me are: What lessons are the young people learning from the deep divisions in our country? What are they learning from struggling with decisions between making a living and ethical treatment of employees and the public?  What are they learning from total access to social media (whether the content is true or not) and the responsibility of being a good person, team player, and citizen?

‘When I hear statements like the kids never listen to me.  They don’t care what we do.  Young people are not watching us.’  My answer is ‘bullfeathers.’  Kids and students are watching every move we make.  The following quote has been attributed to many people.  “What you permit, you promote.”

“When we are adults, the greater part of the “thought life” proceeds on an unconscious level.  For children and young adolescents, almost all mental activity is unconscious.  They feel, they conclude, and they act with precious little awareness of what they are about.”

Are the students being give the skills to be college, career, and community ready?  College ready means to me all levels of further learning no matter what changes are ahead.  Career means do they play well with others and are they willing to be active members of work groups.  Citizen ready means being responsible for voting, ethical treatment of people, and contributing to communities?

“Why do or learn anything?  The answer is simply that it is far better – both more fulfilling and constructive – to have some glimmer of understanding of what we are about than to flounder around in total darkness.”   As I have posted in the past, “Knowledge is Important AND Insufficient.  If knowledge acquired does not translate into positive actions, why learn?  Mary Oliver said, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

As the Cherokee Indian story of the ‘Wolf with two heads’ goes, which wolf will you listen to?  The wolf of good or the wolf of evil?  And the answer in the story is, the one I feed the most.  Which one are you feeding the most?

Dozens of times I have been asked by patients or acquaintances: “Dr. Peck, why is there evil in the world?”  Yet no one has ever asked me in all these years: “Why is there good in the world?”

This was an amazing ‘aha’ for me. Evil is ‘live’ spelled backward.  Evil is opposition to life. Yikes. Here are a few more quotes from the book. “Healing is the result of love.  Wherever there is love there is healing.”  “Evil is most often committed in order to scapegoat, and the people I label as evil are chronic scapegoaters.” “Evil originates not in the absence of guilt but in the effort to escape it.”

Narcissism and Will. “Perhaps the evil is born so inherently strong-willed that it is impossible for them ever to submit their will.  The crucial distinction is between “willingness and willfulness.”

“Our capacity to choose changes constantly with our practice of life.  The longer we continue to make the wrong decisions, the more our heart hardens; the more often we make the right decision, the more our heart softens.”

Turkish Proverb:  No matter how far down the wrong road you’ve gone, turn back.

“With each step along the wrong road, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to admit that they are on the wrong road, often only because they have to admit that they must go back to the first wrong turn and must accept the fact that they have wasted energy and time.”

This can be especially devastating to young people.  The following passage is a warning for us adults and the effect we can have on children. “The evil always hides their motives with lies. The most typical victim of evil is a child.  This is to be expected, because children are not only the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society but also because parents wield a power over the lives of their children that is essentially absolute.”

For more on narcissism I would offer the book summary by the Arbinger Institute, titled Leadership and Self-Deception.

Let’s keep this in mind. “It is not fun to fail.  But it can be highly educational.” Admit that we all have learned a great deal from our mistakes.  Actually, I call the first time, experience.  If I do the same thing again, it is a mistake, and I must admit I didn’t learn from the experience.

“This book is entitled People of the Lie because lying is both a cause and a manifestation of evil.”

Let’s LIVE and not promote EVIL