Little White Lies

by Jo-Ann Triner

Distortions of truth are a control tactic of the powerless with damaging, dangerous, and even deadly consequences.

Theology and therapy intersect at a place where love faces off with all forms of illegitimate control. In this combat zone, the opposing forces of good and evil engage in a great confrontation. They spar, not on a battlefield of bloody contention, but in the combat zone of the heart. Armed only with weapons of mass compassion, they go to war in a way that undermines all of our assumptions about winners and losers. In this scenario, everyone wins, and one eternal principle is proven: Love and truth are inseparable twins. One without the other constitutes a power play and form of cloak and dagger control. Clothed in cunning disguise and with intent to deceive, untruths lead many astray, often into grave danger and death.

Sharing common ground, theologians and therapists walk hand in hand, working to undo the damage of a culture spinning out of control. Both operate in resistance to manipulation tactics that have sickened far too many and sent others to their graves. Operating under the bedrock beliefs that love heals, they labor on the front lines of reform. In their respective roles, they see that the absence of authentic love and trust reduces us to participants in a vast theater of the absurd where retaining our humanity and controlling our fate is perplexing.

Evidence abounds. People are regarded as less valuable than the products they create. They are thought of as property, used for pleasure and personal gain, their talents wasted in the rush for profit. Persons of soul and substance are bought and sold into slavery. Others live in terror and tyranny under the dictates of oppressors. Millions have unjustly gone to the gas chambers and perished in genocides. Others have suffered enslavement, persecution, and a litany of other atrocities. What leads human beings into such dark places often seems innocuous at first.

Power of the Little White Lie

Imagine forced deportation from your home and a government order to pack a suitcase with your valuables. This might include documents, money, mementos, a blanket, and perhaps a teddy bear. Such is the memory etched in the mind of Holocaust survivor, Paula Gris, whose childhood ended at age three on her family’s mandatory transport to Transnitria, one of the vast killing fields of the Holocaust.

The simple mandate to carry suitcases served a function of mind-control unknown to the deportees. It provided a sure and easy way to suppress rebellion. This control tactic kept the oppressed on the move from place to god-forsaken place: on cattle cars, in forced labor camps, even on the death march. As long as bags were packed and carried, there was an anticipated arrival at a place called home, however humble that might be. As long as deportees held onto their suitcases, there was hope. Such trickery brought them, suitcases still in hand, to the very doors of the gas chambers where they died.

The full moral weight of this must seep into us at a soul-deep level if we are to become conscious and committed advocates for the innate freedoms of the human family. Illegitimate control is our undoing, taking us down into Danté’s Inferno. Until we admit this, we are all at risk for the unthinkable in forms sadistic and grotesque as any we can imagine.

If a mere suitcase can become an instrument of mass control, or a hijacked plane an instrument of terrorism, anything can be used in the arsenal of evil.

Thousands of these suitcases are now on display in a state-of-the-art protective storage room in Poland’s Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. It is better known as The Wall of Suitcases memorializing those sent to concentration camps during World War II. In post-Nazi history, the suitcase became a symbol of the incomprehensible damage done to human beings by something so seemingly innocent as a little white lie.

The correlation between small sins, such as “little white lies,” and mortal consequences brings us face-to-face with the problem of deceptive control and the solution an uncontrolling God models for us.

The Sliding Scale of Control and Other Slippery Slopes

Between total control and total freedom is the sliding scale of everything in between. It’s a vast and murky gray zone where the purity of good intentions or evil intent is anyone’s guess, and that’s the problem. Discerning the degree of innocence or deception is often next to impossible. The ill-intentioned use this to full advantage.

As seen from the opening narrative, control accomplishes outer compliance but seldom inner compliance. People may be marching to the drummer but ready to bolt out of line in the blink of an eye. While their outer person complies, their inner person rebels. This is the morsel of freedom the well-intentioned have to their advantage.

What we know with certainty is that manipulative control of any kind represents a felt moral oppression. We may not protest outwardly for a variety of reasons, but we protest inwardly in the silence of our inner selves. Holocaust survivor, Victor Frankl, calls this state of inner silence “the last of the freedoms—the freedom to choose our attitude in any given set of circumstances, and to choose our own way.” While prisoners were forced into death marches stripped of everything that made them human, they retained this inner freedom. In this respect, their captors never obtained full compliance.

Behind Artificial Smiles

Depraved forms of control give rise to rage. Behind the artificial smiles of the compliant, real persons dwell who often seek to avenge their controllers. In this way, evil begets evil in the form of revenge. Those who don’t rebel suffer a stifling suppression of their true thoughts and feelings. This can result in depression and other disorders. Others react in the opposite extreme and become aggressive or passive aggressive. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King is often quoted for saying that riots are the voice of the unheard. He refers here to the chaotic energy within seeking expression, as victims of coercive control yearn to be seen, heard and respected as the sovereign beings they are. In this vicious cycle, evil begets evil.

Control takes so many forms. It morphs into power wars, dictatorships and authoritarian regimes, sadism, emotional and physical abuse, and all manner of societal and personal suffering. Victims hunger for relief from these forms of oppression having suffered intimidation, false imprisonment and brutality in their many disguises. In the name of country, religion, and all that is sacred, we have persecuted others, misaligned with the very love we teach and preach.

Conversely, real power is used to introduce compassion into the world, address hunger and housing needs, alleviate affliction, guide each other in a positive direction, and teach true leadership skills to future generations. Thoughts, words and deeds are potent and consequential in the power equation. This chain reaction begins with the sheer power of intention. With the intention to help or harm, we create either a hellscape or a heaven.

The concept of Uncontrolling Love informs us in all walks of life. Attention to it holds the potential to release us from the ever-increasing list of subversive controls that keep us captive.

The God of Uncontrolling Love brings out the superpower in each of us. Much like the original televised Superman, we “come to earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men.” This is what working in the Soul Zone does for us. We become enabled to help others in ways mere mortals only dare to dream.

The evolutionary clock is ticking on the control paradigm worldwide. Ways of life that have dominated society for centuries are losing momentum. When the right moment arrives, the masses will cease unconscious compliance to all that runs contrary to their essence. We can thank technology for this.

In concert with our technologies, we are creating a thinking membrane, hovering above us like a giant rainbow reaching across the globe. This organically grown meeting place is the sphere of reason, a kind of communication channel, forming gradually and growing in importance. Pierre de Chardin predicted it over a half century ago. Today, it evolves further into the study of cognition in a place commonly called the noosphere. If we are lucky, we will launch further into the ethereal, above the realm of mind, into the realm of heart where knowledge bows to wisdom. Perhaps from this holy of holies within we can end our preoccupation with control.

In the new world waiting to be born, the dress rehearsals are over. The puppets have cut their own strings. Players have put away their costumes. Tricksters have taken off their masks. At long last, the red carpet is rolled away and the lights are out. The theater of the absurd is closed. Some linger in their seats.

Jo-Ann Triner is a dual career professional. She holds a Doctor’s Degree in Educational Administration with thirty-eight years of service in non-profit leadership roles. She is founder and President of Soulful Work LLC and serves on the Board of Directors, The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love. She is the author of an upcoming book entitled SOULFUL WORK 2.0: Powered by Inner Person Potential.

To purchase the book from which this essay comes, see Love Does Not Control: Therapists, Psychologists, and Counselors Explore Uncontrolling Love