I would rather be told the most horrible, horrible truth, than a wonderful, wonderful lie. Especially about myself.
The truth is we all lie. Everyday. All the time. Anyone who tells you they don’t lie is a liar. The most we can hope for is to try and tell the truth. To try and be honest.
I like to hope that most of the lies we tell are the ‘little white’ variety, those designed to protect. The ones we tell when we’re being nice, trying not to hurt or injure or offend. The ‘sorry, I don’t have time,’ type we tell to survey takers or product demonstrators when we really mean ‘I don’t want to,’ or the ‘oh that dress is a lovely colour,’ but we don’t add the ‘but looks hideous on you,’ part, or even the ‘yes, your grandson certainly is a special child, isn’t he,’ when the ‘special’ you mean is not the ‘special’ she means. All harmless enough. Aren’t they?
For most of us, the person we lie most to is our self. I try to be honest with myself, to myself, but it can be hard, especially when you fall short of your own expectations. And sometimes, you have to lie to yourself, just to get through the day. Most tell simple lies; ‘One more biscuit won’t hurt,’ ‘I’ll go to the gym tomorrow,’ ‘Five minutes more in bed won’t make me late,’ but sadly, some tell bigger lies that tend to delusion. People overestimating their abilities, their intelligence or their impact on others around them. Often, these people don’t even realise they are lying to themselves. That is genuinely how they interpret the world.
And that’s the thing about the truth, often it’s subjective. People can look at the same incident and see two completely different versions. In truth, there is often no black and white, just huge grey areas. There may be one or two simple facts, something definitely occurred, but the how, why, where and when may be subject to many and varied interpretations. The truth is, truth is a minefield.
I like to think I’m honest, but I’m not. I don’t necessarily lie, but I don’t always tell the truth either. I have been told some whoppers in my life, lies that perhaps were told to protect, or because they were believed not to be lies at the time. I’ve even been one to keep secrets – lie about certain situations, or at least not tell the truth about them, because I was led to believe the consequences of not doing so would have horrible ramifications. And all of it has had long lasting (and sometimes devastating) effect. And that’s why I still don’t always tell the truth. Sometimes, the truth is so huge, and stretches back so far that it’s just impossible to give voice to. And sometimes the truth would devastate others. It would do me so much good to unburden myself of it, but could I live with the consequences? And that’s when I stay silent. Silence speaks volumes, where truth can’t.
The effect of a lie, even when told to protect is almost always so much worse than the truth. The truth may be ugly and uncomfortable, but it lacks the betrayal of a lie. So when I ask a question, I want the harsh, cold truth, no matter what. I don’t really know how often I get it though. And anyway, wouldn’t it be just one interpretation of the truth?
Then there are those who are just liars. It’s just part of their nature to embellish, or to manipulate or to simply lie through their teeth to get what they want. Some truly don’t know that they are doing it, it’s just who they are, while others are fully aware of their actions and just consider it another life skill. And now, we’ve been delivered a whole new way to lie. ‘Alternative facts’. Anything that is an alternative to a fact is a lie. But even in the highest echelons of society, those who should lead by example, now consider this perfectly acceptable. They say that truth is the first casualty of war, but I think truth is constantly a casualty of many factors, in almost all situations. So much so, I sometimes wonder if there is such a thing as truth at all.