As a former Deputy Head Teacher in a large Scottish secondary school, I was occasionally called upon to deal with pupil indiscipline. This sometimes involved interviewing a number of pupils in an attempt to get at the truth following an incident. It was often the case that the ‘interviewees’ were invariably the ‘usual suspects’ when it came to challenging behaviour. Their stock initial response when questioned was, “it wisnae me”. I often wondered if that was the family motto of some of my more regular ‘interviewees’!
While most pupils were honest and truthful most of the time, a small minority who struggled with issues of behaviour were challenged by an inability to truthfully account for their behavioural failures. Some feared the consequences of their behaviour: exclusion from school and parental involvement, while other more culturally deprived youngsters were simply unable to be truthful with ‘the authorities’.
Recently reflecting on this aspect of my career, I was amused to read that researchers at Harvard University in the USA have found that our ability to tell the truth is linked to individual self control. Apparently when this is weakened through tiredness we are more likely to lie!
According to journalist Fiona MacRae, writing in The Mail Online: ‘The Harvard University study said the more fundamentally honest someone is, the more likely they are to succumb to the 'morning morality effect'.
Through a series of three experiments the Harvard researchers found that: ‘people are vulnerable to a gradual depletion of self-regulatory processes as a result of unremarkable daily activities. This depletion can, in turn, lead them to act in ethically questionable ways.
Unfortunately, it might be that the most honest people are most susceptible to the negative consequences associated with the morning morality effect. In other words, our findings suggest that the mere time of day can lead to a systematic failure of good people to act morally.’
Interesting though the research is, I do not as a born again Christian, accept that it tells the whole story. For me, the Bible gives a much clearer and simpler explanation to the human inability to tell the truth all the time, and it’s all down to sin.
The Bible describes sin as the breaking, or transgression, of God's law. It is defined in the Old Testament as disobedience or rebellion against God. The original translation means "to miss the mark" of God's standard of righteousness.
Now here’s the good news for every human being: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”