Thursday, November 3, 2016

Liar, Liar

My wife came home from substitute teaching in a second grade class yesterday. Telling me about her day, she mentioned an informal debate among some children over the election. One boy said he could never vote for Trump. To which a girl replied, how can you vote for Hillary, she is such a liar.

Lying has been a huge part of this election year, both as a theme and as a background. Trump, who has branded Cruz and Clinton as liars so much it's like their first names, while he is hardly a candidate who gets high ratings for truthfulness.  His campaign was built on the lie of Obama's birthplace (not America). I've noticed local elections are getting a lot of mileage out of accusing the other candidate of lying, too. Who would have thought lying would be such a big deal. We should be used to it by now. Fact checkers check every speech and always spot a few lies. We don't expect anyone to be lie - free, do we? Maybe our kids but what kind of role models do they have in the adult world? We teach the importance of honesty and then they listen adults debating politics.

Well, adults think they do better than they actually do when it comes to lying. The NY Times polled over 2500 of their subscribers and asked them if they had told a lie that day. Only 7% said yes. That's right 93% swore to truthfulness at least on the day in question. Makes me wonder what people consider a lie. We have "bald faced lies" and "little white lies". Then, there are the lies we tell because the truth may hurt or get us into trouble like when some one asks us if we like what they are wearing or cooking or listening to. We have many ways to categorize lies. Like we need places to file them because there are so many of them. The really, really bad lies are the only ones that count. We all know what those are, apparently. No one wants to be known as a liar. If that tag sticks, no one will believe any thing you say.

Perhaps we have been caught in a whopper once or twice. Not fun. Told one lie and it spiraled out of control until we had such a big lie that no one but us believed it. Or, we didn't really believe it either but we had to keep telling it. Some times the lie gets so big we say she is living a lie or his whole life is one big lie. We like mysteries for that reason, trying to figure out who is lying. It's not easy but it is interesting.

I think it would be better off if more people, especially politicians, admitted they have lied, or are lying or will lie. Then, we can get to what they aren't lying about. It isn't that big a deal. We all have done it, in fact, we are pretty expert at it. We have had lot of practice. We may not like it when we do. Or when others do it to us. But, if we are honest, we have a problem here. 9 out of 10 of us on any given day believe we have told nothing but the truth all day. We even lie about lying.

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