The Truth and Lies bout Lying
07 February, 2013
The Truth and  Lies bout Lying
How many times have you been late to a meeting and blamed it on the traffic? How many times have you used the “Oh, I’m so sorry I never got your text message” excuse to justify your oblivion or indifference towards your friend? Or lied that you were asleep so you wouldn’t have to answer a certain call? Or given a fake excuse for not getting your work done on time?
Three years ago, I met a lovely young lady
and rapidly fell into a long conversation with her on a cup of Starbucks coffee. Trying to impress a new friend, she told me a story about saving a stray dog that very morning. I aww-ed and brought clasped hands to my heart. I thought kind and noble things of her. Three years later, we sit at a long restaurant table with a group of new friends, chatting and blabbering about ourselves. To my outmost surprise, she starts talking about saving a stray dog that morning and recites the same story she had impressed me with three years ago. I would guess she wasn’t aware she had previously shared that fictional incident with me.
This got me thinking about deception. Why do we lie? Especially about such trivial things? And although our noses don’t grow when we lie, how often do we hide the truth? What expands our capacity to be Machiavellian as human beings?
American Author J.D. Salinger writes in The Catcher in the Rye: “I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It’s awful. If I’m on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I’m going, I’m liable to say I’m going to the opera. It’s terrible.” Salinger’s depiction of a typical lie is typically the truth. Though deception is such an overarching idea and includes vast array of concepts like fraud, forgery and embezzlement, the deception I’d like to refer to is the one that taints our everyday life. Or in other words, the little omissions of truth we call “white lies”. We all suffer from these little blemishes.
Even though honesty and integrity is reinforced on pages and pages of scriptures, and preached about in parables, there’s no doubt we exercise deception at least once a day. Whether the act occurs consciously or not does not really carry much significance. We have been doing it since we were children, from accusing our kindergarten friends of stealing a toy, to our colleagues of being lazy and unproductive. Big lie, small lie – it just happens. Honesty is transparent but quick to become opaque.
As author Cheryl Hughes said: “The truly scary thing about undiscovered lies is that they have a greater capacity to diminish us than exposed ones. They erode our strength, our self-esteem, our very foundation.” We weave these lies together for several reasons. Some people deceive to maintain their social relationships, or to make new ones. Some lie because it is easier to shift the blame on someone else. Others fear confrontation, or losing their self-esteem, or getting involved in a situation where they know they would feel uncomfortable. Sometimes people lie not just to others, but to themselves, to justify the mistreatment of others, or their biased decisions and actions. And some lie simply to be nice, because they are too polite to say a negative comment. But for whatever reason, the misleading use of language is a virus to which no one’s immune. Though it may seem as a temporary relief to mislead one’s self and others, it is highly destructive in a long run.
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