Saturday, February 2, 2019

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Lying seems to be all the rage these days.  We are told so many lies in a day it is hard to know what the truth is. Alternate facts are not the truth regardless of what the spin doctors tell you.

I recently got involved in a conversation about the nature of truth and lies and when lies become your truth. As a child I was an excellent liar. My brother got the blame for a lot of things I did because my version of the truth was believed over his. In my early years I was a military brat. Military brats lie. There is even a comprehensive study of the phenomenon. John Irving in Cider House Rules points out orphans lie too. His reasoning in the book is because it is the only thing in their lives over which they have control. I believe that is true of military children too. Three bases in the second grade is definitely out of your control.

But it can be really freeing because you are never held accountable. You could reinvent yourself and your history every new school or house. My father retired from the military when I was in the fifth grade. I distinctly remember going to my parents after Christmas that year and asking when we were going to move. I was told we weren't. This was home for a long, long time. You could tell they thought I would be thrilled. I was in a panic. "We have to move," I yelled, ran to my room, slammed the door, and developed my first pretend illness so I could avoid school for a week. I had never had to remember my lies for longer than six months.

I still largely knew what the truth was when my traveling reality show came to a halt. Though, to be totally honest, there are a few "tales" from my past which are in a twilight zone. Having a couple proven to be truths, when I thought they were lies, hasn't helped. "It doesn't matter if it is the truth or not," a counselor much later in life advised, "what is important is that you believe them to be the truth." He would have clearly failed in law enforcement.

My question, having flirted with the truth, is what does it take to totally believe the lie beyond Act II Scene I. Yes, a good actor is a good liar. They buy into the lie for just long enough to convey it as truth. And some comedic actors, like Johnathan Winters, is is rumored have blurred the onstage and off line to excess. We seem to have a president who doesn't know what the truth is. What does that mean for our country? And more importantly does it mean for those who believe his lies hook, line, and sinker.

What is real? And what is not?

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