Friday, May 16, 2014

Lies, Lies, Lies!!

“Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.” Pablo Picasso
Picasso painting showing the horror of the Spanish Civil War to pre WW II Europe


The best reason not to lie, for me, is that it makes things so much easier not to have to remember what I told to whom. First let’s get some things straight – there are all types of ‘untruths’  - April 1- " There is a big black hairy spider in your hair! ,  Dec… “ Yes Santa has a big toy factory at the North Pole and he will bring toys to all the good boys and girls.  “ Darren stole my pencil – “ No, I didn't”. 

We all know who this is - another fib - uh oh!

“I was at home watching TV by myself at that time I couldn't have been anywhere near the crime scene”.  “The trout I caught was ‘this big’ – but at the last minute it got away”.  “ I will bring a chicken to every pot if I am elected as your mayor”.  “I can’t go out with you Friday night because I have to visit my sick grandmother…”

 I have known people in my life that could not control their lies – and they told stories with consistency and a good memory of whom they told what.  I had an uncle who told about being the only person (as a young child) aboard their ship carrying emigrants from Europe to spot an iceberg and alert the ship crew.  Some ‘stories’ become family mythology – “ a pack of wolves followed the horse drawn sleigh as it went through the woods – but there was straw in the bottom of the sleigh to protect  feet from the cold." – my ancestor pulled out wads of straw and lit them on fire and threw them back at the wolves." 

Some people lie are about accomplishments – books they have ‘written, degrees they have ‘earned’, adventures they have ‘had', conquests they have 'made'.  I knew a man who was in the Pacific during World War II and it is unknowable how many of his stories were truly about himself, borrowed from others, or the products of invention.  They were amazing and entertaining.  And then there are stories that are mostly true - but maybe embellished just a little.

So why do people lie? I suppose that some people perceive that the truth just isn’t good enough.  They may be disappointed that they didn’t have grand experiences in their lives – and a little creative story telling gives them satisfaction – maybe even a thrill of having gotten away with it.  For some its about getting status or recognition.

Of course some lie for personal advantage, political or financial gains, or to avoid discovery for a real wrongdoing.  Once we get to this level of lies, they take on the aura of a crime and are often punishable either by law or by social or personal rejection. I have known people for whom  telling a good story as the truth is an art form to be recognized as a special gift.

I knew a man who made the most amazing claims about himself but finally tripped up and told a story about himself for which I was aware of the real facts.  Soon after, more  of his stories unravelled for me and my estimation of the man tumbled to disgust from that time forward… He still told his stories and he still found believers – but it made me sad…
The worst kind of liars are those who use their lies to cause others pain or "burst their bubble"… gossips who pass on half truths fall into this category – Such cruelty happens when a busybody finds pleasure in being the first to tell a hot story.    …The lying comes in when  they fabricate a bit to make the story juicer still.  

And you and I know that gossip eventually will come to the person talked about - causing that  special kind of pain because there is nothing much you can do about it.  Probably the lowest of the low are those that make up tales to besmirch the memory of loved one who have died.  When the  truth is unknowable and stories are still told – there is no recourse  - I supposes this gives a  feeling of “special power” to the liar. Maybe for some its a final getting even with the one who has died.

There is a superstition that its OK to tell a lie if you cross your fingers behind your back 

Are there justifiable lies?  If telling someone the truth would be very painful – is that a time to soften reality?  If you are hiding Jews and the Gestapo comes looking for them – is it justifiable to say “ Oh I haven’t seen any of them for days!”  Are politicians or news sources justified to feed us platitudes and untruths to meet their own agenda, to keep the moral of the public  high, or to maintain popularity?  

And then there are the lies we tell ourselves - " I'll only have one glass of wine and then I'll stop", " I look pretty good at ___ pounds.", "I'm really a 'cool guy'!"

"Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth - so help you God?"