There is one word which seems to be part of any news report: “SHORTAGE.” What then follows is a list of commodities usually followed by a list of possible causes. These shortages over which we have no control cause inconvenience, frustration, and sometimes actual harm. However, there is one shortage which should cause great concern. It is not a commodity. It is one which affects us all; it is one with which we are all very familiar; it is one to which we even contribute. That shortage is TRUTH.
As a child I learned the “Thou shalt nots” and heard the playground “Liar, liar,” and even played Truth or Dare. But as a young girl a personal experience greatly expanded my insight into the concept and impact of truth.
Influenced by peer pressure, I decided it was time to shave my legs. Sneaking into my father’s cabinet for the needed supplies, I proceeded outside to my own private haunt and began the task. So far so good…until I noticed a long trickle of red from shin to ankle. Obvious my inexperience created a dilemma which needed immediate attention. Quickly I became my own medic, armed with hastily acquired gauze, tape, etc. Obviously, it was it was not something I could conceal, but I nonchalantly strolled back into the house. So, who was the first person I met? My dad. He took one look at me and said, “Did you fall on your bike AGAIN?” My response? Nothing. Nada. Surely silence is not lying, is it? Besides I naively assumed that my father knew nothing about this teenage rite of passage anyway. So, his assumptions were not my fault, were they? I was home free, UNTIL later that day when I heard him reporting his assumptions as fact to my mother, which immediately activated her TLC. Now what? True confession? Is omission of truth a lie? Though I was not old enough to analyze this completely, I did feel very uncomfortable since my upbringing included a generous amount of moral instruction which I knew had violated, so I did what we all do… rationalized my behavior.
“The whole truth and nothing but.” That doesn’t really mean the “whole.”
“It’s just a white lie.” So, what is a black lie?’
“It’s just a fib.” Is that a euphemism for a lie?
“Everybody does it.” Really? Everybody?
“It didn’t hurt anyone?” Even when the hearer’s actions are then based on a lie?
“The end justifies the means.” Whose ends? What means?
“You can’t handle the truth.” Should that be your judgment call? “
Perhaps we should ask ourselves how we feel when we lie, when we rationalize. Guilty? Uncomfortable? Knowing we now must remember what we said? Then that leads to another question. How do we feel when we have been lied to? Do we excuse the liar since he probably used the same rational we used? Do we give them a pass? After all, if it is okay for me, isn’t it okay for others?
Questions then? Do we just accept the rationalizations which are rampant? Is truth the standard only when it is convenient? Just what is our commitment to truth? From our elected leaders? From the media? From the advertisers? From our spouse or our children? From ourselves? Do we even care that the erosion of truth creates distrust, disruption, wrong decisions, disrespect, cynicism…and in the long run harm to our relationships, to our county, to ourselves? But at least we don’t have to participate, do we? Or is it all relative?
TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES?
For me, it all began with a razor.