Remember when you were a kid and you’d lie about something small. I’d be called in from playing outside and my mother would ask, Have you washed your hands? I’d look down at my pink palms just before dinner was about to be served. They didn’t look dirty. I wanted to sit down at the table without delay, so I’d say, Yes.
She’d look at me, and maybe she could see the guilt on my face. “Go to the sink right now and wash your hands,” she’d say, “With plenty of soap and water.”
Eventually I decided, it was easier to tell the truth. At least about washing my hands, but there were other times I continued to be dishonest.
We used to call small lies “fibs.” Small untruths, usually about ourselves. Yes, I did my homework and Yes, I cleaned my room. Little “fibs” were okay, we told ourselves as children, because they were harmless. The only person hurt was ourselves.
Separating fact from fiction is something all children do, as they test what is believable. If a lie was told for a good purpose, it was called a white lie. Little white lies expanded to telling someone you were their friend, (to make them feel good) although you really weren’t their friend. or a teacher telling you they gave away the classroom pet when in truth the guinea pig died.
Maybe you told a little fib because you were embarrassed you’d never traveled so you told someone at school, “Yes, of course I’ve flown on a plane” even though you’d never been to an airport. These types of untruths, were okay you figured, because they didn’t do any harm.
But one day, when you took out the dog for his daily walk, you were lazy and didn’t pick up his poop which landed on the sidewalk right in front of your house. Instead of confessing your misdeed, you remain silent when your father accuses the neighbor’s dog. As time goes on, your parent’s dislike for that neighbor increases, all because you were too cowardly to admit it was you who neglected to scoop the poop.
We blame others for our mistakes all the time. Sometimes that blame is innocently placed because someone didn’t admit their error or someone tells what they think at the time is a small lie.
Fortunately, the majority of humans are truthful. If they weren’t, our society would quickly fall apart. People would lie about everything: what kind of work they do, where they live, who are the other members of their family, and whether they paid for the entire bag of groceries they’re carrying out of the store or just a few items they decided to scan.
Our expectation of truth is so strong, that many people find it hard to believe that someone they like and trust might tell falsehoods.
What if you want something so bad, you’re willing to tell lies to gain your objective? We’ve all heard stories about someone who pads their resume to get the all-important dream job. What lies do politicians tell us to gain their vote?
Maybe, the majority of Americans won’t believe something outlandish like the Martians have landed. Well, actually many people did believe the Martians had landed when they heard the famous Orson Wells radio broadcast in 1938 of HG Wells’ The War of the Worlds. But this is 2022 and surely we are not so gullible.
Humans continue to believe lies that they think will improve their lives. A wonderful beauty product is developed that claims to be able to make you look twenty years younger. The company that made the product may be lying, but to people seeking the Fountain of Youth, they want to believe the lie and they buy the product.
A politician tells you they have a sure fire way to stop inflation and get you a higher paying job; all you have to do is believe that all the problems in the U.S. are caused by all those others who crept into our country to steal jobs and commit crimes. Simplify a complex problem and blame the other political party for negative outcomes has become the troubling behavior of our “leaders”.
Lying is a dangerous thing, but many of our politicians keep repeating lies over and over again. Donald Trump lost the 2020 election by thousands of votes. Not one court of law in the United States, many presided over by judges appointed by Donald Trump, found any election improprieties. Instead of being honorable and admitting defeat, he keeps lying about the election results and attempting to bully and intimidate anyone who doesn’t agree with him. That’s how a tyrant acts.
Whatever your political beliefs, conservative or liberal, a tyrannical autocrat should have no role in our government. The ends does not justify the means when the cost is our democratic form of government. Accepting lies as truth is dangerous.
Thank you for reading and fellow writers, here’s a writing prompt. Try writing a scene that features one character lying to the other character. How does the liar justify their actions to themselves and to others? Maybe the person they are telling their lies too is also lying. Try different versions of the same scene from different vantage points. Before you know it, you could have an interesting story.
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