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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Learnings from an Essay: A Question in Ethics

Although my entire essay was rewritten again and again several times, I had the most trouble with the introduction and conclusion. First, I used a quote from Hitler as an opening, but when I found that he probably never had said that, I found a different quote from him to use. Soon my editors and I decided that Nazi Germany wasn't the best example for my essay. I moved the quote I had formerly ended with to the beginning. That Monday night, after trying to find the original source for the quote, my dad and I discovered that George Washington had most likely never said it.
As I was going to print the final version of the essay to send the next day, this discovery was rather frustrating. I had a dilemma on my hands. Either I could leave the quote--knowing I had a proper source, and hoping my readers didn't research it--or I could desperately search for something else to use.
I went to bed that night--or rather, morning--an angry girl. My thoughts went something like this: Why would anyone fabricate something like that? Don't they know a little girl could be hurt by it? I hate lying. I despise lying. I loathe lying. Why would anyone lie to anyone? It's so dumb. It's unethical.
Revelation 21:8 lists eight types of people ending with "and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
It was very difficult, but I determined not to use the quote, even though it was very good. I didn't think my conscience could handle it.
The next morning I woke up not wanting to work on my essay. I changed the quote to another by George Mason. It didn't really fit that well, but it would have to do if I couldn't find anything else. It was a struggle, but I knew I had to do it. I cried in anger at all lies. I cried from frustration. I cried because I was sick of introductions. It made me look forward to heaven though--a place where there will be no more lying.
That afternoon my dad helped me find a better quote. One by James Madison. No, it was far from the caliber of Washington's false quote, but it would do.
To encourage myself about what I did, I read a number of verses in Proverbs about lies and truth. There are quite a few. "Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, But those who deal truthfully are His delight" (Prov. 12:22).

1 comment:

Alex Jordan Harris said...

Hannah, I'm so glad you did the Christ-honoring thing... Even though it was hard.

God is honoring you for that. =)