Friday, January 29, 2010

A Lie Is Violence Against The Mind

I don't know where that phrase came from, but I remember it struck me when I first read it. A lie creates a false reality, a papier mache world that the liar knows to be a fake. Liars creates the lie to protect themselves from discomfort; it's not that at all - it's this! We've all done it. But when we do it I don't think any of us understand what we do.

It's been on my mind; I've had to think about this while serving on a grand jury, listening to people tell what they swear is the truth. Sometimes two peoples' versions of the truth bear absolutely no resemblance to each other. Then I have to try to identify the lie.

As I've said before, I'm not good at it. I'm gullible in the extreme. I trust people. I don't consider that a virtue; it's a handicap. A certain healthy skepticism is required in this world, an understanding of human nature and our willingness to deceive others and even ourselves when the truth feels just too uncomfortable.

I wish gullibility wasn't a handicap. I wish there was no need for healthy skepticism. I have lied - white lies to spare someone else's feelings, lies of convenience (a mental health day called a sick day), "harmless" prevarications. But I have come to understand that even those venial sins are a form of violence, a breach of trust, an assault on someone else's ability to navigate in the world.

A lie messes with the mind's reality, it creates a false picture which the deceived believes. A lie is not kind. A lie is cruel. And a lie told in an effort of self-preservation is corrosive; it will destroy the liar by eating away at his or her sense of integrity. I believe that is a major part of the puzzle of gang violence; inner city crime. Lie after lie, rationale after rationale eventually eats away at a person's sense of value, sense of integrity.

It's true on the streets, it's true in relationships, it's true for parents, for children, for lovers, for friends. The truth hurts, but lies kill twice.


Jo said...

"I trust people. I don't consider that a virtue; it's a handicap." That is so true! I trust people too, and sometimes it is indeed a handicap.

Isn't it interesting that we have both posted on the same subject today, from opposite ends of the spectrum. I agree with your post, however.

You have a fabulous blog. The whole world should find you...!

Susan said...

Jo, coming from a woman with a very popular blog, that's high praise.

But yes, it was truly remarkable that we both were thinking about lying and wrote about it.
I even hesitated to comment for fear that somehow it would appear the two were related.

But honestly. Truly. From one who values such things - it was a case of incredible synchronicity.

Maybe that "great minds" things applies today.

ArtSparker said...

There's also confabulation, unconscious lying, happens when the confabulator is faced with a threat to the self. I know I do this to some extent, editorialize the past, simply because I am not completely objective about events in which I have been a participant. One works toward the truth, in many cases.

Susan said...

So true, ArtSparker, and always a surprise when I discover I've done it.

"I swear it happened that way."

"It didn't. I was there."

"Really? I could have sworn..."

I guess it's an inner defense mechanism. And we keep digging through the dirt toward bedrock.