Sometimes it’s easier tell a lie than to tell the truth. With a lie, a situation can momentarily be resolved; or better yet, cease to exist. With a slight (sometimes substantial) distortion of the truth, or a convenient omission of decisive facts, a nagging wife can be silenced and a quarrel resolved. The only glitch is that these lies just never seem to know how to stay in the closet like we tell them to! They’re rebellious like that. Lies like to do their own thing: fall pregnant with more lies; and publicly expose themselves without clear warning!
The fact is that it is never easy to own up to certain situations, especially those completely overwhelming could-lead-to-a-lot-of-trouble kinda ones. Those situations need a special brew of imagination and in a bottomless cup of lies, it’s easy to lose yourself while digging in. I know plenty of men who have tried to sneak into their houses in the wee hours of the morning, only to be met with a startling flicker of a light switch followed by a “Where have you been?”. And in an attempt to save themselves from possibly being thrown out into the cold streets of single-hood, they have found themselves instinctively remixing the truth a bit. “I was out. With a friend.” Meanwhile, though he may have indeed been out, the friend being referred to here is more likely to be a friend with “benefits” than someone from his regular pool of tshomis. But this is just one of those clichéd examples. Lies come in handy in a variety of situations, such as: when a politician finds himself unable to pay his hundred-and-something thousand rand rent; or when a group of scientists and executives forget to tell a young girl that she is in fact going for a gender verification text (not, as she assumes, a routine drug test).
But is there really a clear lie between the truth and a lie? Like the guy who came home late: if he was with another woman, she was kind of his friend, wasn’t she? Sure, she may not have been the kind of friend a girl wants her boyfriend to have, but she was a friend. And if that’s the case, he was telling the truth. Right? And when you don’t say anything at all, how can that be considered a lie? Omitting a few facts is just practising one’s right to be silent is it not? I mean, technically, SAAFA didn’t tell Caster what kind of tests she was going for so they didn’t exactly lie to her did they? (And that question applies only to that particular part of the Caster situation!) I know it seems like I’m playing devil’s advocate here, but I’m just verbalising the justifications liars (who would rather not use such a harsh word) tell themselves all the time. If one is not completely honest, are they lying?
My mother, and many of your mothers I’m sure, would say yes. My mother has always said that if you have to hide it, or you don’t want it to come out, then it is a lie. In a world of grey, the difference between a lie and the truth is as clear as black and white. A tough pill to swallow, I know. The thing is lies (half-truths, omissions… whatever you want to call them) are like those fair-weather friends that dupe us into thinking they have our best interests at heart. And though it may be easy for some to sit back on high horses and judge the lies other people tell, everyone tells some kind of lie at one point or another. Be it as small as telling your girlfriend that she hasn’t gained weight when in actual fact her jeans clearly say otherwise, or as big as telling your boyfriend that your son is his (Chris Rock’s idea of the kind of lies women tell), a lie is a lie and there isn’t a single honest lie in on the planet! The real clincher though is that no lie remains hidden for ever. Even The Bold and the Beautiful can teach us that. And the Ghanaian people said it best: no matter how far a man urinates, the last drop will always fall between his legs.
*FIRST PUBLISHED BY http://www.consciousness.co.za/ *( November 2009)