Lying seems to be the great American pastime. Politicians lie so much that it seems newsworthy when one of them is discovered telling the truth. University officials lie to cover up the misdeeds of coaches. Bishops lie to cover up the misdeeds of bad priests. Attorneys lie to protect their guilty clients. Cops lie to protect other cops. Advertisers lie to sell more stuff. Lying in America seems to be rampant. And acceptable (sort of).
I know that lying is supposed to be a sin. And there’s a commandment: “Thou shalt not lie”. I’d be a liar if I told you that I know which commandment it is, but I know it’s in the top ten. So if God commands us not to lie, why do we do it so freely. Why do we lie so much???
I know that there are some “good lies” or “little white lies”; for example when someone gives me an awful gift, I usually respond with something like, “Thanks. I love it!” It just seems rude to be honest and ask, “What in hell were you thinking when you selected this ugly-ass sweater for me?” I know because I’ve tried the honest approach and lying would have spared feelings and the resulting wrath (however the ugly sweaters stopped, come to think of it, all gifts from that individual have stopped). It’s also a good idea to lie when people ask, “How old do you think I am?” or “Does this (dress, suit, jacket, sweater, etc.) make me look fat?” Also lie about how cute their babies are – even if the kid looks like Yoda or the Mayor of Munchkin City.
But lying is a slippery slope. Lying leads to cheating; cheating leads to stealing; and stealing leads to God-knows-what. Folks cheat on their taxes and rationalize that “everybody does it”. People justify cheating the government by finding “loop-holes” in the tax code, welfare system, unemployment insurance programs, Medicare and Medicaid. And the ‘little guy’ feels entitled to cheat whenever possible because the Big Banks, Major Corporations and Wall Street have cheated him (her). It’s a vicious cycle.
Let’s stop! Or more to the point, let’s start. Let’s start by telling the truth; the whole truth; and nothing but the truth. I know it’s radical but let’s try.
And if I tell you that your butt looks big in those jeans, you can feel free to tell me that you think my grandchild is ugly (but you’d be a liar). Maybe I need to re-think this…