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The Truth, and Nothing But the Truth

Secrecy is a sure path to corruption. It is depicted in George Orwell’s book 1984, where the dominating totalitarian government that brainwashed its citizens to separate them from reality. In the book The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Reverend Dimmsdale lies time and time again about an affair with a married woman and guilt causes him to develop a mental illness. In the ancient times, during the Qin Dynasty in China, Emperor Qin Shi Huang caused the disintegration of his own rule when he ordered the censorship of all historical, scholarly, religious, and political texts in China.
George Orwell thought that corruption in the world will spin out of control if corrective measures weren’t made in the country. His vision of the future is depicted in his novel, 1984. The prominent political figures of the oppressive government in the novel 1984 ordered the falsification of documents, editing of records, and censorship of news to prevent the inhabitants of the continent from realizing that their entire population was living in miserable conditions compared to the other countries that surrounded them. The people became numb to reality and lived in a false world. Those inhabitants who came near realization of the true situation of the country were kidnapped, executed, and erased from all historical records. The actions of the government revolved around secrecy, which created a corrupted society that was damaged beyond repair.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s book, The Scarlet Letter, is another perfect literary example of the adverse effects of secrecy. In this story, a young woman named Hester Prynne had an affair with a Reverend Dimmsdale and gave birth to a baby. No one knew that Reverend Dimmsdale was the real father of the baby, so both Hester and Dimmsdale lied to keep the critical secret. All the townspeople, at the time, praised Reverend Dimmsdale as the holiest man who walked the streets of Boston. Under pressure and guilt that arose from his act of hypocrisy, Dimmsdale began to crack. He developed a mental illness, and he eventually confessed his affair with Hester Prynne on top of the town scaffold and died soon after.
In Ancient China, during the Qin Dynasty, Chancellor Li Si advised Emperor Qin Shi Huang to suppress knowledge in China to unify all thoughts and political opinions in the empire. During a time period commonly called “The Burning of Books and Burying of Scholars” (213 to 206 B.C.), thousands of volumes of priceless books were burned to keep vital information from the rest of the Chinese empire. The Emperor even destroyed other historical documents out of fear that they undermined his legitimacy, and he wrote his own history books. He also ordered thousands of Chinese alchemists and scholars to be buried alive to complete the process of destroying Chinese history and religion. Many of the people buried were Confucianists, and this brutal act of pointless execution caused instability in the empire. The stupidity of the attempt to lie to his entire empire attributed to the quick fall of Qin Shi Huang and the Qin Dynasty.
Examples from literature and times bygone demonstrate that secrecy leads to immorality and that complete honesty and candor are the keys to happiness and success. Common sense and obvious moral instincts also tell us that secrecy isn’t the appropriate way to solve any issue.




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