The most secure view is from the playpen

While researching an angle for today’s commentary, there were more quotes and anecdotes about lying than any other subject I have tackled.

Of course I wouldn’t lie to you in the paper!

The Tribune is pretty public, and some fine denizen might tell on me.

So perhaps I’ll stick to the straight and narrow … for now.

While researching an angle for today’s commentary, there were more quotes and anecdotes about lying than any other subject I have tackled.

And I wondered, “Why?”

Do liars talk more than anyone in order to cover a dishonest trail?

Do our fears of falsehood provoke a search for blame, or even a cure?

Is every lie the same, or are there degrees of falsehood — from little ‘white’ ones to purely pathological.

Perhaps the reasons we lie come mostly from our level of maturity.

A toddler is pretty honest, actually.

He may bite you viciously, but won’t pretend he didn’t!

A five-year-old will falsify information that his imagination wishes were true, “It’s mine — he gave it to me.”

A school-age child may fib to squirm out of punishment.  “No, mom,” he says, as he tries to escape the consequences of chocolate on his face.

Teenage prevarication can be a smokescreen for bad behaviour.

And young adults may brace their status with wild arrays of bragging.

Then finally, in a category of their own, we find adults.

Adults, though they know better, may falsify a response to keep sex or money (or something less enticing) just the way they like it.

Sounds like the ability of a five-year-old, doesn’t it! claims a lie is “a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive.”

Of course, there are two kinds of lies — the out-loud kind, and the kind where I could have said something!

Have I ever let a lie float into reality by saying nothing?

Lies are like earthquakes. The ground shifts, and it takes a good while before the damage is known.

Or until I again feel safe along the fault line.

There are unpredictable aftershocks as the solid crust that protects everyone has been broken.

Could I ever feel safe at the edge of a sinkhole?

It may depend on the magnitude of the lie, but the next time the relationship rumbles, trust becomes a question with a tremor in it.  When a lie is told, everything is up for grabs.

Lies are the only thing we cannot deal with.

The only thing that is sure is that everything is unsure.  Communication becomes shaky when its foundation is false.

Even when someone answers a lie with truth, communication narrows. And the closer the liar is to your heart, the more harmful the lies.

I have never told a lie. Says who? Strange how the seriousness of a lie depends on who’s doing the telling.

If you tell it, that’s dreadful!  If I tell one, perhaps there is a reason, I say to myself.

But there’s a lie buried in these few paragraphs.

Or maybe two. Even that could be a lie. If I were truthful, would you even know? A bit unsettling, isn’t it?

Of course I want you to trust me for the next column in two weeks.

But doubt will remain for a while yet, making a toddlers mind look pretty good.

See you in the playpen.

Rita Corbett is a freelance columnist with the Tribune/Weekend Advisor.


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