The nature of lies

I know I just posted a blog about not watching Seinfeld, anymore.  But when I did watch the program, I noticed that just about every show centered on somebody telling a lie.

*George elbows Jerry as a “wink and a nod,” mocking their old, overachieving, high school friend Lloyd.  But Lloyd sees it.  George immediately makes up a lie about having an uncontrollable twitch in his elbow.  The friend recommends a doctor.  George needs to tell a second lie, explaining why he doesn’t want to see the doctor.  George’s father hears about the twitch.  George needs to tell a third lie to get his father off his back.

*Jerry gets the unlisted  phone number of a woman he wants to go out with.  He doesn’t want her to know how he got the number.  For the rest of the episode, he lies over and over about it.

THIS is the nature of a lie.  Like Lay’s potato chips, you can’t stop at just one!

One seemingly simple evasion winds up entangling a person more & more.  There is no such thing as telling only one lie.

Lance Armstrong and Pete Rose did so many interviews, straight-faced, insisting on innocence.  Lance didn’t dope up.  Pete didn’t gamble.

We know now–what boldness to lie with such conviction!  For years!  It couldn’t stop at just one.  They had to lie about friends who saw them doing it, insisting that the friends were the ones who were lying!  Lance had to lie about passing drug tests (in which he used drugs to avoid being detected for drugs).

They had to lie to fans.  They had to lie to commercial sponsors.  They had to lie to the news media.  No such thing as telling just one.

Now we are trying to figure out if Deflate-gate is the same thing.  The straight face of everybody doing interviews doesn’t cut it, anymore.  We’ve seen that done to perfection.

I hope–I truly, really hope–the issue turns out to be nothing.  I like Tom Brady.  I think he’s a classy athlete (badly needed these days).

Deflate-gate, of course, takes its name from “Watergate.”  During the Watergate hearings in Congress, it would be a regular occurrence that reporters would be camped out on the front lawn of a White House official, waiting to catch the person going to work.  “Are you going to resign?”

On one such occasion, the White House official was Charles Colson.   Reporters flocked around him, hounding him with questions.  He fended everything off.  When the initial flurry had ended, one reporter, preparing to pack up and leave, remarked to Colson–sympathetically–I don’t see how you can put up with the pressure.  Somebody is going to crack eventually.

Lance Armstrong had a teammate, Tyler Hamilton, who went along with the lies.  Finally, Tyler Hamilton decided–enough.  He didn’t want the pressure, anymore.  He went public–told the truth.

A Vietnam veteran, Sen. Bob Kerry of Nebraska was always lauded for winning the Medal of Honor.   For years, he entertained these praises willingly–even ran for President.  But in the end, he didn’t want to the pressure, anymore.  He went public with the truth.  He said he never deserved the Medal of Honor.  The fact is, he had participated–unwittingly–in a massacre of women and children in a Vietnamese village.

Abraham Lincoln is proven right again and again:  Eventually, truth emerges.

“You can fool some of the people all of the time.  You can fool all of the people some of the time.  But you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”

One reason this observation holds true is–lying ulcerates a person’s innards.

In telling a lie, the first person that one must lie to is–one’s self.  A person must justify it.  And every time the lie is told, a person must once again justify it in one’s own mind.  It is a repeated ripping of one’s self apart–should I? shouldn’t I?  How can I possibly tell the truth NOW?

As long ago as the 1500s, long before psychology arose as a science, people knew it was unnatural to feel “split”–between the person you want to pose as vs. the person you really are.

Martin Luther said exactly this.  “It is not healthy,” he said, “to go against conscience.”

(I am talking, naturally, about someone who is not psychotic.  A healthy person can not lie without some pang of guilt.)

It is not healthy for a person to feel “split”.  The psychologist Carl Rogers said, a person yearns to feel “congruent.”  We usually hear this word “congruent” when reading about congressional districts being re-designed.  A congressional district must be “congruent.”  That is, it must all be connected.  A district can’t have some voters in Philadelphia and the rest of the district exists in Pittsburgh.  “Congruent” means:  connected.

In terms of a human being, “congruent” means:  what people see on the outside fits with what a person knows one’s self to be on the inside.

Lying splits a person–inside vs. outside.  It doesn’t feel good.  It doesn’t feel natural.

Lance’s teammate, Tyler Hamilton, finally couldn’t take it.  He went public.  During his first interview spilling everything, he remarked how GOOD he felt.  He felt relieved of feeling split.

Sen. Kerry, when he finally went public, talked about how GOOD he felt.  He felt relieved of fighting with himself.

The word “hypocrite” is from a Greek word meaning “an actor.”  “An actor” is the worst that a person can be called:  that is, a fake.  It cuts into the very soul.  Because it gets right at the worst that a soul can be:  split.

Isn’t it interesting how many times we find deep truth in the Harry Potter stories?  One plot that Jo Rowling worked to perfection is the idea of:  the horcrux.

A person can hide part of one’s soul in a special, secret object–like a medallion or a sword or a chalice–in order to survive an attack.  But doing this, warns a professor of magic, requires splitting one’s soul.

“Merlin’s beard!” the professor exclaims to a student who is thinking of trying it.

It isn’t natural, being split.

The psychologist Scott Peck (The Road Less Travelled) has a golden rule in his insightful book.  He wrote, If you have a choice between doing what is easy (but evasive) vs. doing what is hard (but truthful)–always choose what is uncomfortable.  It will be prove to be healthier for you.

Truth-telling is often difficult.  But it is wrenchingly more difficult when truth-telling must occur after lying.




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