Fleetwood Mac once sang “Tell me lies tell me sweet little lies.” Not only is it catchy but it might be true because all of us lie. In fact we often go out of our way to lie-especially when asked the usually annoying question of how is your day going. Everyone secretly hates that question and yet its asked every day. So we bullshit and say good even on days when our urge to kill is rising.
My current job involves plenty of lies and half truths. We can’t tell customers what we are really thinking about them as that would get us fired. If someone gets fired its called being laid off or being forced to resign. We are expected to deliver sunny outlooks no matter what the situation is or if things appear bleak.
We demand that politicians tell us the truth and yet sometimes their honesty gets them in trouble. Doctors are instructed to give good or positive news to inspire hope even if its false. Some people engage in half truths, thinking that if they serve up part of the truth they are not really lying.
Famous movies even deal with the nature of truth. Most famously Rashomon but also Memento as memory distorts the truth. In Lost Highway Bill Pullman says that he prefers to create his own memories even if they are lies obscured by time. Often people decide to hide themselves in a fantasy world, cut off from the truth because they find lies more comforting. That’s a tad disturbing.
I’m reminded too of a great line from Lawrence of Arabia: “If we’ve told lies, you’ve told half-lies and a man who tells lies, like me, merely hides the truth, but a man who tells half-lies has forgotten where he put it.” So perhaps its more troubling to be good at balancing the line between truth and lies instead of being an outright liar in that case. But then again, maybe its better to just attempt to tell the truth in the first place. I don’t even have the space to go into relative truth, absolute truth, etc. That’s a discussion for another time.