Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The truth and the lies

Written by me just now to express something which I don't know how to express any other way

At some time in our lives we all lie. At some point in our lives we all tell the truth. It sometimes seems that lies are easier than the truth. It's even easier to say: I'm lying vs. I'm telling the truth. Yet is it ever possible to tell if another person is lying, is it ever possible to tell why? There seems a strong desire to tell if someone is lying or not; yet this isn't generally for practical reasons, it's mainly because 'it is the right thing to do'. Perhaps I should illustrate this with some examples:

I am a giraffe

This doesn't need any explanation. It is clearly a true statement, something that no decent human being would lie about. Oh wait... there's a problem there!

If I was to say this to someone they'd maybe laugh, they might think I was odd, but they'd never think I was a bad person; they'd not think I was trying to trick them with lies. So it is not the lies which are bad, but the deception which uses them.

It's 12 o'clock

You ask someone the time, they reply. I might just be a very trusting person, but I don't ever think they'd lie to me. There is no necessity to lying about this. I can't think of any (non contrived) way that it would be possible to deceive someone by lying about the time to them. Comments if you can think of ways. This is a statement which has implicit trust, but only because there is no reason not to trust.

I love you

This is something that you might lie about, but usually unless there is some money scam involving you won't lie about. At least not deliberately. You might be caught up in the moment, you might not realise the full extent of the meaning of it, but if you are of sane mind then you're not going to lie about this.

I think that's a good idea

Now we get to a grey area. This could be a lie, it could be truthful. Ignoring the uncertainty of not knowing if something will turn out well, I can still try to trick you into doing something for some other reason and claim it is a good idea. I might have any multitude of reasons for lying, so why do you trust me? From experience and a bond of friendship. We both seem to have a mutual understanding to not try to screw each other over; well at least not too much.

That is a red dress

You shouldn't trust me if I say that. I'm colour blind so don't really know what red is. I am aware that I am colour blind, and particularly bad at picking out reds. Knowing this, if I choose to make a statement about the redness of something, which I hope you'll trust, surely I am in some way lying. If I can't trust myself then me telling you something which I don't trust myself, while at the same time trying to convince you of it, is just one big lie from me.

That doesn't make me angry

How dare you even consider that I might be lying about my emotions! Really how dare you! If you were a true friend you'd not question me when I said that to you, why should I sit here and be nice if you're going to do hurtful things such as doubting things I say to you then I will fight back. It's not the same as the red dress, in that case you could point out to me that you doubt my ability to see colour and that maybe I am wrong for trusting my instincts. That would be fine, but saying I'm untrustworthy when I've told you something is like a slap in the face. Think about it, this statement is a combination of all of the above examples. Mixed together and cooked at gas mark 6 for 2 hours. The blend is so subtle. So why do you question? I feel it because you feel angry and don't want me not to be angry, yet still I kicked out.

Neither of us came out of that looking good did we?

Ok so quite blatant, but it needed to be said.