People lie all the time; every hour, every day, every week – on average, once every ten minutes. You get the picture. They lie to their families, friends, work associates, clients, customers, suppliers, lawyers, accountants and of course the tax department, the police and the courts. Just watch one hour of CNN and count the lies; to us, about us and by us. But most of all, people lie to themselves; I mean, how else would Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian get their own reality shows if it wasn't for the fact that they actually believe they have talent and their producers pretend that they do?
A lie is a prevarication or falsehood with the intention to deceive others to gain an advantage. This advantage may be for monetary gain, status, reputation, or to avoid the consequences of one's actions. To lie is to state something fully knowing that the statement is not true. So when is a lie not a lie or is a lie always a lie?
Sometimes people lie to make others feel good about themselves. “My, your hair looks nice today, Mrs. Cleaver!” You wouldn't think that would be a lie because the result makes Mrs. Cleaver feel good. BUT, as we all know, Eddie Haskell only made false compliments to gain acceptance and goodwill from Mrs. Cleaver so he could get away with all kinds of other shit.
Telling your wife or girlfriend that her new hairdo or dress looks nice, even if you don't think it does, is a kind and generous thing to do. So that's not really a lie right? Let's just call that a white lie. Mind you that kind of compliment will also keep you out of the doghouse. Oops….there's an advantage again, ergo a lie by definition!
Does a political election platform promise become a lie if the promise is not fulfilled? We all know that things do change and that no one can predict the future. BUT, if the politician knows when he makes the promise that there is no way he would or could fulfill his or her promise, then that certainly is a lie.
So a broken promise of any sort is not a lie if between the time of making the promise and the time of keeping the promise unforeseen circumstances have changed making it impossible to fulfill. Ah huh, sure. That's like the girl who cheats on her boyfriend, and when he complains, “But you told me you loved me just yesterday,” and she replies, “But I did then. And now I don't.” I knew a woman like that once who said whenever she lied, she got a twitch in her eye – and that was a lie!
Is the fact that your cell phone company puts an “access charge” on your bill without you knowing and when you ask, refuses to tell you what it is and why you should pay it, a lie? How is that different than a con man selling you bogus investments?
Are the lies of the Wall Street financiers who sold worthless investments and then bet against them any less of a lie than what Bernie Madoff did? Hell, no. The former operated within the regulations created by The Fed and supported by the government. The later was a merely a common crook, no finesse at all.
How about in a courtroom? Lawyers lie all the time but they are protected in court. Hell, most defense arguments are lies concocted to try to get a guilty people off. And more than a few cops perjure themselves to get a conviction believing the end justifies the means.
At the core of every crime there is a lie. A lie may help commit a crime or a lie may help escape the consequences of a crime or a lie may, in fact, be the crime. So maybe the solution to prosecution of all crime is to have only one law; you can't tell a lie!
Diplomacy by definition is lying - in a diplomatic way. I remember the Canadian diplomat who was fired for saying that Mexican officials from the President on down were all corrupt and on the pad from drug traffickers. He was canned by the Prime Minister the next day. But the thing is, what he said was largely true!
I've often wondered when the heads of two nations are in a one on one meeting, if they bullshit each other, or if they are straight with each other but agree to leave the meeting and bullshit the press and their respective peoples. Nah, that wouldn't work.
Narcissism is a condition where narcissists' entire view of themselves is a lie. And they lie to others as a matter of course. They will lie to you about things that you did together. They will misquote you to yourself. If you disagree with them, they'll say you're lying, making stuff up, or are crazy. Narcissists are pathological liars.
I love the word spin; the media term to describe lies by politicians, their spokespeople, corporate big shots, bureaucrats and anyone else caught with their fingers in the cookie jar. As if by calling it spin it lessens the truth of the lie.
I think we are ready for an all new TV reality show:
The Bullshit Factor
A stock broker
A car dealer
An investment banker
|An insurance executive
A convicted ponzi scheme artist
A church bishop
A baseball player convicted of doping
The Big Lie (Who has the best bald faced lie)
The Sin of Omission: (Oops did I forget something?)
The Cover-up: (Nah that didn't happen)
The Deception: (So here's how it is)
The Spin: (Turning shit into caviar)
The Broken Promise: (I did not say that)
Sadly, lying is part of the human condition and all we can do is try to navigate around the big ones.