Truth, trust, trouble

November 16, 2009

Riley’s a little dog.

When I hold him in my arms, high in the air — some 10 or more times his height — he looks at me with total trust.

He knows he’s safe.

That I will hold and support him. No matter what. That I’m not faking it. I really will always keep him safe.

It’s an intuitive sense.

With humans, it’s a little more complex.

Some of us have an intuitive sense about whom to trust. At least some of the time. But usually, trust is based on our knowledge of the person. What they say. And do.

To trust someone we have to know that they have integrity. That their behavior is incorruptible. That they are congruent.

Trust is the foundation on which all strong relationships are built. Relationships of any kind.

Those of us who’ve been around the block a time or two know that trust takes years to build and can be destroyed in a single moment.

I’ve had that kind of moment. When someone I loved lied to me automatically and with such great skill that I had to admire it.

Even as I ended the relationship. In that moment.

In the Catholic Church, a lie is a “venial” sin. One that can be easily forgiven. Unlike “mortal sin,” which requires the absolution of a priest and a serious penance. (Which is usually rote speed-recitation of 10 or so prayers, hardly heavy lifting. But I digress.)

Then there are “white lies.” Everyone define them differently. (Depending on how it makes them look, it seems.)

I don’t believe in the concept of white lies. Call a spade a spade. And a lie a lie.

If my hair looks like crap, don’t tell me it looks fine. If peach is not my color, for God’s sake, tell me! If you don’t like a piece I’ve written, tell me it’s not my best, don’t tell me it’s good.

Some people are habitual liars. They can’t seem to stop lying. Dumb lies, too. Unnecessary lies.

Many times, people lie to avoid conflict. Real or perceived.

The problem with that is they dig a hole that they can’t climb out of.

I have a pretty good bullshit detector. I’m attuned to demeanor, tone of voice and body language. I can almost always tell when someone is lying through verbal and non-verbal cues.

That makes me suspicious. So I look for confirmation.

It’s always disappointing when I find it. Which I usually do. Can’t help but wonder, “what else are you lying about? Maybe something more serious?”

Some people can balls it out. They kind of know we know, or they fear we know. But they ignore it, hoping that we’ll all be complicit in the avoidance charade.

It would be a good time to use the “back space” key. But most people don’t.

The problem is that a lie discovered is like a knife to the trusting heart. It does damage and sometimes it’s mortal.

Trust is related to truth. We really can’t be cavalier about truth. Or trust.

One comment on “Truth, trust, trouble
  1. One of my friends won’t comment on the blog, only in emails. Here’s his latest. And he knows something about sociopaths (not because he is one, he isn’t):

    “There are sociopaths that would defy your “bullshit detector” the same way they easily beat a polygraph. If they tell you the sky is blue, you still look outside to be sure. “

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