In a world of liars, you might think there would be some embarrassment about believing a lie. But there they were -- the American, British and German intelligence services -- with egg on their prevaricating faces. "Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, [an Iraqi defector] codenamed Curveball, said he had to do something to bring democracy to Iraq." So he lied about biological and other weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and, largely as a result of his assertions, the Americans invaded Iraq in 2003, toppled Saddam Hussein, and have killed untold numbers of people in the quagmire that resulted.
The first question is, why did those Mr. Al-Janabi informed not vet and confirm his assertions? You might think that war was a relatively serious business. But perhaps in the age of Twitter and Facebook and Wikipedia, even human life, and the thinking on which it is sometimes premised, is not all that important.
On the other hand, maybe Mr. Al-Janabi is lying now and was telling the truth then. Millions of tax dollars are funneled into intelligence services. Does anyone in those agencies have the intelligence to seek out the truth even as they rely on lies for their existence? What kind of bang for the buck are taxpayers getting? Self-congratulation only goes so far: At some point, someone's got to break a sweat and do the leg work.
And isn't it the same in spiritual life? Reports flow in from near and far. Some of the sources seem credible. Some sound like charlatans. Human beings file and collate the information with a mixture of skepticism and hope. But what is the actual-factual truth? How long can anyone con themselves by filing and collating other people's words and analyses? Belief heaps on belief, longing heaps on longing. Lies are exposed and truths revealed, but hell...
At some point, someone's got to break a sweat and do the leg work.