Op-Ed: Nefermaat by Bob Moores

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Nefermaat was a name as common in ancient Egypt as “Robert” or “Smith” today. What does it mean?

The hieroglyph to the left in the graphic above is “nefer”, meaning splendid or beautiful, and Maat was the goddess of truth and justice. Together they mean “the beauty of truth,” a concept the Egyptians valued so highly that one’s eternal abode depended on it.

We live in the era of “post-truth” and “fake news,” particularly as those terms pertain to politics. They have been around for a while, my research shows, but were not ubiquitous and popularized until the advent of Donald Trump.

Wikipedia defines post-truth politics as “a political culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored.” Post-truth, which previously went by another name (initials being BS), has become more prevalent, experts say, with the growth of the internet and social media. By these mechanisms, BS and bald-faced lies can be spread unhindered by accountability or the slightest degree of fact-checking.

My parents taught that lying was bad. Yours probably did too. My wife and I urged our three kids to be truth-tellers at all times. I always figured my fellow Americans thought the same. What went wrong?

Our society has become inured to the bending of truth, telling half-truths, deflection, and outright lying, especially by politicians. Misrepresentation has become an art form. It is fashionable and expected. As the quintessential example, our president, when caught in an obvious whopper, will say “I didn’t say that.” If shown the video, he will say “I didn’t mean what you think I meant,” or “I was joking.” If shown the data he will say the data is wrong or it’s “fake news.”

This behavior seems to be acceptable by a large segment of our population. I don’t get it. Maybe his daily lies have become so normative they no longer draw attention. Or maybe they are discounted because he is trying to fulfill campaign promises most important to his base. I don’t know.

What would the Egyptians say?

Bob Moores retired from Black & Decker/DeWalt in 1999 after 36 years. He was the Director of Cordless Product Development at the time. He holds a mechanical engineering degree from Johns Hopkins University.

 

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