The bane of humankind is the malignant lie, employed by the malevolent liar for depraved self-interest, in politics and families. The ability to initiate and sustain the lie takes no special talent nor intellect, only the capacity to abandon personal integrity and morality. When good people try to correct the mendacity, the liar gets angry and vindictive. So the question is, in politics and families: Roll over in silent acquiescence or stand up for truth and take the hit?

Conversely, some family truth can be counterproductive, no matter how pure the intentions. There are those who cause heartache, individuals with emotional dysfunction, baleful tendencies, or MAGA mania. There’s a natural desire to stand up, to call them out. But this can be divisive. Doing so would hurt others we love, put them on the spot since they are not recipients of the familial anguish and are obligated to love the malefactors for better or worse.

No, the right responses are universal components of personal growth: 1) forgiveness; 2) a commitment to nonjudgment; 3) an ability to accept and detach; and 4) faith in our own intrinsic good character. Only these ward off anger and sadness.

Eventually we learn the healthy answer is to allow the back-channel defamation and malign mistreatment to exist unspotlighted by us. We learn that those with integrity do not desert us, do not integrate the untruths. We accept that others, dysfunctional or baleful, simply desire to spread their psychogenic misery to those who embrace veracity and resist manipulation. We accept that we can’t control others’ desires.

This brings us back to the herculean endeavors of forgiveness, nonjudgment, acceptance, and detachment. We believe in our personal decency while recognizing imperfections. We meticulously avoid acts or speech that might compel side-taking. And we ever-strengthen our love and respect for those who love and respect us despite familial obligations.

This is growth. This begets peace of mind despite betrayal.■