I am nothing but a bare faced liar.
There’s no two ways about it. I am a peddler of misinformation, misdirection and downright lies.
I have spent the vast majority of the past few weeks lying shamelessly, time and time again heaping untruth on untruth until I can barely separate fact from fiction. In fact scratch the last few weeks and insert the last few years.
Yes it’s Christmas time again. The time for peace on earth, goodwill to all men and lying to your child. Yes Santa Claus is coming in a couple of weeks, yes his elves are stationed around the planet to ensure the niceness, or otherwise, of little children everywhere and yes of course his reindeer can fly.
I do feel pangs of guilt after spending hour upon hour trying to instil in my little lady that lying is bad and then becoming the biggest fattest liar in the village. Guilty yes, but not quite guilty enough to stop.
But it’s OK, because it’s a ‘good’ lie, a ‘white’ lie, it makes people feel good.
But where do you draw the line? Does my bum look big in this? Do I really want an honest answer to that?
I watched a film recently called ‘The invention of lying’. Not a very good film it has to be said, but an interesting premise nonetheless. It creates a world where everybody tells the truth, all of the time, and when one man discovers that he has the ability to tell lies he finds that everyone believes him, however far fetched his tales become, because no-one understands the concept of falsehood. The ‘world of truth’ that was created for the film was a bleak one, it seemed that not only did people not lie, but they deliberately went out of their way to hurt people’s feelings. The whole premis of the film seemed to revolve around the idea that telling the truth made people unhappy and that lying was the only way to achieve a contented existence. The truth, apparently, hurts. But is it really more harmful than lies?
It seems justifiable to spare someone’s feelings by not telling the whole truth, but what if by sparing one persons feelings causes someone else to be hurt?Is not telling the whole truth the same as telling a lie? And what if the person finds out that have been lied to? A favourite quote of mine goes like this: ‘The worst thing about being lied to is knowing you’re not worth the truth’. Discovering that someone has lied to you or not been completely honest with you, particularly if it is someone you love, can crush your very soul.
We all expect honesty and openness in all our public officials and are scandalised when it is, almost inevitably, found that they have lied to us in some way. Any yet if we stand back and take an honest look at our own lives can any of us claim that we are morally superior than those who are vilified daily in the media? Is lying to a lot of people worse than lying to just one? In this current climate of ‘whistle blowing’ it seems that we will all be told the truth, regardless of the consequences, whether we want to hear it or not.
You will probably have noticed that this piece contains a lot of questions and not much in the way of answers. Many greater and more philosophical minds than I have debated, and I’m sure will continue to debate, the nature of truth and lies, and few of those minds have come up with any satisfactory conclusions.
I guess for me it’s all about judgement. Will the truth really hurt, does a little white lie here or there make me a bad person? Whilst I don’t intentionally pursue a course of active deception, Christmas fibs excepted, I have been known to tell the odd whopper from time to time, but never intentionally to harm. Did I hate my parents when I found out about Santa, was I damaged emotionally? Well of course not. They, as I do now, judged that a few stories to engender that special feeling of magic and excitement leading up to the big day itself were well worth the price of a few ‘fibs’. And I can but hope that one day my little Moo will be able to exercise that same judgement.
And so here I sit, with no more answers than when I started, encouraging my little girl to write her letter to Pere Noel, and desperately hoping that my pants do not spontaneously combust.
There is no truth. There is only perception. ~Gustave Flaubert