When People Lie, People Die: A Frank Lesson from 9/11

7 years ago today the world stood still in the face of tragedy as Americans, Black, white, and everyone else stared in pure horror as we saw real planes crash into real buildings with living, breathing people inside them in real time. Then, few saw it as a teaching moment: a moment that we could learn from. Since then, the majority of us have activated our analytical minds and searched for understanding regarding the events that took place on that day and the series of happenings that led to that disaster.

As we remember that day, those who were injured and killed, those who demonstrated the apex of human bravery, and those who have since perished in events related to 9/11, I ask that we contemplate a basic truth exemplified on that day:

When People Lie, People Die

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in one of his many non-“I Have A Dream”-speeches, said this about what I’ll call the Continuum of Lying:

Jesus realized something basic: that if a man will lie, he will steal. And if a man will steal, he will kill. So instead of just getting bogged down on one thing, Jesus looked at him and said, “Nicodemus, you must be born again.” In other words, “Your whole structure must be changed.”

In other words, many big, huge, terrible, evil things start off itty bitty lies. Lies that went unchallenged. Fallacies that were presented and accepted. Falsehoods that are seen then ignored.


Barack Obama said this plainly during his Acceptance Speech at the DNC in Denver. It bears repeating and applying here when talking about how we need to stop accepting the lies that politicians tell. (…cough…John McCain…cough…Sarah Palin…cough…)

I don’t like being lied to, and frankly, you shouldn’t either. It’s insulting and disrespectful, and it leads to people getting harmed, hurt, and killed.

So in rememberance of 9/11, its victims, and its survivors, let’s reject lying in our homes, lying in our workplaces, and lying in our politics. Who knows how many lives we can save by just doing that.

One Love. One II.


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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at MoveOn.org. I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

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