Commonly Accepted Lies


My children and I debated the subject of telling lies as they grew up. I felt bad when I told lies and they thought I was too sensitive about it. “Everyone lies!” my sons said. “Not true,” I answered. “Not everyone lies.” “Yes, mom, they do, for sure on their taxes and other stuff, too. You just don’t know how much people lie.”

There are commonly accepted lies, like when someone calls us and we tell the phone-answerer to say we’re not in. I’m assuming that teens’ lying to their parents is pretty universal. Then there’s calling in sick at work or taking home office supplies. We humans hide the things we buy if a loved one would get mad about it–I definitely prefer to avoid confrontations. Or we may lie to protect another’s feelings. If we find ourselves straying from our current situations we might lie because we feel dishonorable, or because we don’t want to lose what we have. Then, as my sons’ proclaimed, there’s the IRS.

The worst lies, though, are the ones we tell ourselves. ‘I’ll only eat one cookie or one scoop of ice cream now,’ or ‘I’ll start eating better tomorrow.’ Are we desperate to be with a certain someone or will anyone do? We tell ourselves this person is perfect for us, or that he (or she) will change for us, when deep down we know—there’s an uneasiness—and our friends have told us, ‘You’re gonna be sorry.’

We all have an honesty meter within. My parents took us to the drive-in theater to see Pinocchio when I was little. I remember how I sang along when Jiminy Cricket crooned, “Let your conscience be your guide.” I believe lying has the same effect on us as not managing our financial affairs well: We can’t be trusted with more responsibility until we work through the confusion generated by our desires or slip-ups. After all, growing is our main purpose for being born on Earth.

I guess lying to ourselves is the hardest on us because we’re ignoring our own still, small voices, our consciences. The good thing is, we can’t go on forever disregarding that we are meant to link up with Love and Goodness within and without, and bottom line, we will learn our lessons easily or with great difficulty. None of us would have it any other way.