Truth & lies

January 12, 2011

True words are often not beautiful,
just as beautiful words are often not true.
-Japanese proverb

We make sense of our world and our relationships
by what people say to us.
It’s the foundation of our connection.

We’ve all been lied to, of course, even by those we love
or who love us.
Usually they lie to protect us.
Or themselves.
Or it’s for effect.
Or to get something they want.

But lies aren’t that uncommon in other parts of our lives, either.

“You’re a great artist.”

“You’re beautiful.”

“You did a wonderful job.”

These are all pleasing words, things we’d like to hear.
We assume, of course, that the person saying them means them.

I know a number of gracious people full of lovely words
and Southern flattery.
So much so that I wonder about their sincerity.

Other people are a little more… direct.
Blunt, even.
They’ll say what’s on their mind.
I never wonder about those people.
I know they’re telling their truth, as they know it.

And then, there are sins of omission.
Not outright lies, but lies of omission.

Of course, there’s a happy middle-point here that we should strive for.
Tact and all that. Not every truth should be given unvarnished.
But truth must be told.

When someone lies, it weakens the foundation
of our relationship with them.
Navigating with such shaky footing is difficult.

When the truth comes out, or is deduced,
it’s like a seismic blow. The damage may not be obvious
but it’s there and the relationship can’t be easily retrofitted.

What can you count on, if not what your loved ones tell you?

How do you feel about truth and lies?
Oh, and if you’re wondering about the genesis of this post, I just finished an impactful memoir called Perfection by Julie Metz. It’s about lies and betrayal.

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