Sunday, July 25, 2004

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them
I was listening to Fox and Friends yesterday when I heard a former federal prosecutor (have no idea who he was) discussing the Lori Hacking case. I'm sure you know who she is but in case you don't, she's a young woman who's missing from Salt Lake City. Her husband is considered "a person of interest" and is currently getting psychiatric help in a local hospital. This prosecutor mentioned that the husband has stated "mistruths" in his statements to the police.

I have always hated when people say, "you really meant to say..." or "don't you mean to say...". My usual response is "I said what I meant to say. Did I not make myself clear? What part of what I said didn't you understand?" This is one of those times when I will say to the prosecutor, "Didn't you mean to say he lied?"

A lie is defined as 1 : to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive 2 : to create a false or misleading impression. I understand there are varying types, if you will, of lying. The out-and-out lie where you know the truth and choose to say something else to save your own skin or someone else's skin. Both lies, but one at least benefits someone other than yourself. There is the lie used to keep from hurting someone else's feelings ("That is the cutest baby I've ever seen" while thinking to yourself, "Call the zoo! I've found the missing link!") and we've all done it. There is the lie of omission where you answer the question but leave out pertinent information ("Oh, the boys and I just played a little poker last night" and not mentioning that you lost your paycheck) used for a number of reasons. The lies politicians tell when they are campaigning and want your vote ("I'll promise you anthing you want because you're stupid enough to believe me and you'll vote for me). And probably more types of lies. The point is, they are all lies.
Like most people, I try to tell the truth, but I will tell a lie to keep from hurting someone's feelings ("Yes, mother, that shade of cotton candy pink lipstick looks lovely on you"). When I was a child, and even as a young adult, I didn't want people to be mad at me (I think it was more that I wanted people to like me and if they were mad at me, they wouldn't like me) so I would lie. As I've matured, I'm much less concerned with what other people think. If someone is mad at me, they'll get over it (I'm such a wonderful person that they just can't stay mad at me for long).

The point is, when we start calling lies by other names (fibs, little white lies, mistruths, mis-statements, covering for a friend, campaign speeches, and so on) we begin to learn that lying's not so bad and that it's okay to lie. It becomes the norm and we're a little less than what we were before the lie. If you lie about the little things, what won't you lie about?  Eventually, people begin to wonder whether they can trust anything we say. The fiber of our character is just a little weaker with every lie.
And it is about character.

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