Nena Arias | November 13, 2017A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. Proverbs 22:1 A single lie destroys a whole reputation of integrity. -Baltazar Grazian-
I have noticed an alarming trend that is very disturbing to me and it should be concerning to you also in a profound way because of the far-reaching detriment this action causes not only to individuals but also to institutions and our culture. I am referring to a very dangerous weapon that is being wielded in what seems to be in a light manner seeking to take advantage of a situation or a person. But, in truth it is deadly. It brings disastrous consequences of great magnitude upon people and literally destroys them and damages their life and everything pertaining to it as well as the lives of their families and their livelihood. I am talking about the heinous act of character assassination where someone takes it upon himself or herself to slander another person, persons or institutions. Tragically, in far too many cases the allegations may be totally unfounded; nonetheless, the damage is not averted or lessened.
Of course, in the offing my topic excludes individuals who truly deserve to face the consequences of their wrongdoings if they are guilty because there is a law that is unmovable and we do reap what we sow. That is a universal rule that doesn’t change for anyone. Sooner or later the consequences of our actions are unavoidable.
Having said that, I want to focus on the other side of the coin. What constitutes character assassination?
First let us define what is character:
Definition of character according to Learners Dictionary of American English, 2017:
- The collection of qualities that form the individual nature of a person or thing.
- The aggregate of features and traits that form an individual’s nature.
- Character denotes moral and ethical strength: honesty
- Features that make an individual different from others
To further clarify our focus, consider that a personality is how people perceive you and character is who you really are. Proverbs 23:7 puts it this way, “For as he thinks within himself, so is he.”
An unfounded attack on a person’s character starts out with all the destructive force of a lie, which undoubtedly grows into a series of lies. Our society recognizes this and has made provisions that anyone who lies, especially under oath, is punishable by law. God also sees this as a very grave offense, so much so, that he made it the Ninth Commandment that says we should not bear false witness against our fellowman (Exodus 20:16). This makes it even more egregious how our society too often is no longer punishing liars, as it should. More and more, we have been permeated with an obvious culture of lies that seems to be out of control because the laws have become so lax. Something that was a rare occurrence in times past we now see all too frequent across the board and it seems to have become the new normal; people with titles, power and prestige, who are supposed to be role models in our society whom people look up to, literally get away with murder by lying to save their necks and even prosper materially as they perpetrate these lies. Even though they are caught red-handed with their “hand in the cookie jar” they have the audacity to deny their guilt and too often get away unscathed.
Proverbs 22:1 says “a good name is to be chosen rather than great riches…” A good name shows the integrity of a person and who they really are. A good name is worth more than all the money a person can acquire. God sees a person of a good name more valuable than huge amounts of riches.
Our society as a whole desperately needs people they can trust. Sad to say more and more the list gets shorter and shorter and the stability of our society gets worse by the day. When people trust they know what to expect in decision-making that affects us all and that those decisions came from a place where their well-being was forefront.
Why is the act of lying and making false accusations against a person called character assassination? Clearly it’s because there is death involved. Death to a person’s good name stains them for life and discredits their word. Even those who were their friends find it hard to continue that relationship because their trustworthiness may always be in question believing there may be undisclosed motives for what they do and say.
It is very painful to lose people because of a falsehood that someone else perpetrated. I speak from experience. I once lost a very dear friend from childhood, which continued into our young adult life and I was never able to recuperate that relationship because of something someone accused me falsely of having said about her. I was later vindicated because it was discovered what a liar that perpetrator was when she lied about a member of her family who ended up going to jail because of something that same lying person said.
A good name has lasting value. How many men and women in history inspire our admiration because of who they were and what they did?
Tarnishing the good name of a person falsely is like throwing feathers in front of a fan. How do you go back and gather all the feathers. Or, its like people say, how do you put the toothpaste back into the tube?
In our times, consider the use of the Internet and the damage it can cause for the rest of a person’s life when something false is uploaded. A post on the Internet is there to stay, it can’t be undone and will continue to cause horrendous damage. It is just too easy to ruin a person’s life when there are little or no consequences to this criminal, murderous act of assassinating a person’s character.
God sees this as a grave sin and we must seriously consider always choosing God’s way, which says that a good name is far better than great riches.
“The memory of the just [is] blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot.”