Just to prove I’m being fair, I’m the biggest liar I know. But before telling you why at the end of this post, I’m happy to point my finger at a few others first.
Supreme Court Justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett
Watching Amy Coney Barrett dance around the truth in the hearings this week has been fascinating. She is phenomenally intelligent and exudes a kind disposition. During her confirmation hearings, she has actually been replying to questions using some of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s tactics during her own nomination process. Ginsburg declined to answer a lot of questions designed to nail her down on how she might vote on a particular issue. And this is a noble pursuit, because we want our judges to not be predisposed to ruling with a confirmed bias, thus revealing how they might vote to future litigators.
But we also want them to be human and admit they have a moral compass.
When she says in testimony, “I have no mission or agenda,” (aka a bias) which might compel her to vote this way or that in a case – she does have an agenda, because well, we all do. When pressed by committee members, the American people need to hear her say that she believes in women’s rights, worker’s rights, that systemic racism exists, that smoking causes cancer, that climate change is real, that it’s cruel to separate children from immigrating mothers and put them in cages, that the American people should decide who gets to be president and not the supreme court, that health insurance is a fundamental right.
We want her to be honest with both herself and us, because these are all simple moral questions anybody should be able to answer with a quick yea or nay. What we don’t want is a judge in any court setting who has lost touch with her own humanity to such a degree that she can only mechanically rule based on how well the prosecutors or defense attorneys present their case.
While she’s not outright lying, let’s just say she’s being eloquently evasive.
Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi
They can be deceptive too. As leaders in the House of Representatives they will routinely pull facts and figures out of the blue, which makes it seem as though the democrats have all the right answers and their colleagues none. Republican, democrat, independent; it makes no difference. We are accustomed to the slip of their tongues and political savvy, which they utilize to their advantage to present their agendas in the best light. At times they gaffe and do lie, but most of the time their deceptions hinge on a careful presentation of some facts to the exclusion of others.
The way White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany answers questions is dazzling. And I do mean this as a compliment to the level at which her mind can craft the illusion of truth. Within nanoseconds she can completely avoid a reporter’s question and convert it to promote the latest Trump or GOP talking point.
To see Kellyanne Conway flip a question into non-coherent gibberish is to witness a master at deflection. She’s brilliant at it. I mean this with utmost respect – not for the lies that often emerge out of her mouth, but rather, because I’m simply in awe of how the human mind can so skillfully manipulate deceit as to turn it into art form. (To get further insight into her psychological bag of tricks check out this video.)
This brings me to how well children lie, which I take as an indication of their emerging intelligence. We see it happening in children right around the age of five. No longer toddlers, when out of fear or trust they quickly did what they were told, children now begin using deflection or silly lies to get what they want. The beauty in watching children lie is that you can see their minds turn often by their facial expressions and body language. Whereas adults have developed the skill of wearing a poker face while lying, children’s faces often indicate what’s going on in their heads while they are rationalizing the lie they are about to tell.
Yes, he lies. He really, really lies and practically every time he opens his mouth. 20,000 plus and counting. Yet, his lies lack any sophistication or reflect any sort of intellectual skills; he’s a pathological liar. And unlike children who are able to at least weigh the risk to reward ratio of telling a lie, Trump lies quite often much to his own detriment. More tragic, his lies inflict a lot of damage to the extent that he seems completely unaware of the damage he’s causing. Which hints of a severe lack of empathy.
Oddly enough, my Bible says so.
“And for this cause God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie. That they might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” II Thessalonians 2:11-12
The Bible also states Satan lies …
“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44
But I’d be quick to excuse Satan. Legend has it he’s a created being. Common sense dictates that like a robot, a created being can only say and do things it was created to say and do. Which means, the “father of all lies” is probably his father, the One who created him.
So, have I missed anyone?
Yes. By far the culprit I’m most familiar with who lies is me. (Although I’d be lying if I said I have a complete understanding of how and why I lie.) My sense is I normally lie to myself. This usually occurs because I’m in a state of denial and don’t want to confront a side of myself I prefer not to see. So, I tell myself things to make me feel better about myself, rather than face my own insecurities and shortcomings.
Other times, I lie because of an act of omission or sheer stupidity. There’s a hell of a lot of things I don’t know about in life. So, when I’m trying to convince myself of something, or arrogantly presuming I know better than others, I have to be constantly vigilant and mindful that my opinions could be based on misinformation. And when my vigilance dulls, I’m apt to speak words that don’t square with reality.
I can honestly say, though, that I recall few occasions when I deliberately lied as an adult for personal gain. And none of those lies were deliberately thrown to hurt someone emotionally or physically. So, I guess I could put a feather in my cap for that? Having said this, I probably, unknowing, say things based on misinformation all the time that hurt or offend people.
We all lie. It is human nature to lie. The lies we tell ourselves come in many categories and shades of color. Some are benign, others as ruthless as an aggressive form of cancer. Some we tell in order to survive in a home or work environment, some we tell so we can live with ourselves, some we tell to keep the peace, some we tell to benefit others, some we tell because the truth hurts so bad. There are lies we don’t even know we are thinking about much less saying. There are the kinds of lies that some utter which might cause people harm. And then there are the kinds of lies – the worst – which some people tell to purposefully cause pain and suffering.
What does it mean to be truthful?
Going into depth on this topic will have to wait for another time. But at the very least, it begins by admitting we do lie. Lying is within our nature, and to a certain degree it is necessary and conducive to social harmony. We can’t fix in our heads what we don’t know is broke. And recognizing we lie, allows us to see how often we lie, and the quality of our lies, and this awareness is what allows us to shove a sock in our mouths right before we say something we are libel to regret.