Thursday, June 7, 2012

I Prefer My Pants Not Burn

June 7 - Reverb Broads
List 8 reasons it's okay to lie. 
Suggested by Katrina 

When I first saw this prompt it scared me.  It still scares me.  Eight reasons to lie? Really? There are that many reasons? I'm not a Kantian, per se, but I do believe in performing universalizable actions, so in general, one should not ever lie because what if everyone lied.  After reading some of the other Reverb Broads' responses, I feel a little better about my own and other's lies, but...

As a child I lied.  To my recollection it was usually about illicit cookie consumption and was quite an issue in our home.  Eventually, and I don't know why it was successful, but it was, my mother said it was important to be honest and for people to trust me and if I ever had to be in court and people couldn't trust then that would be bad. Yes, that memory is a horrible run-on sentence.  Likely it was not, in actuality, said as such.

Since then, I've tried not to lie.  Skirt the truth, yes, but out and out lie, not so much. Then I read some of the other Reverb Broads posts.  Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy - yes, keep that story going as long as possible.  Rain on someone else's parade when I could just let it pass me by - well, you've got a point there.  Having something else to do when so-and-so calls, yes.  Well bleepity, bleep. I'm lying all the time.

After further thought, it seems there are two conditions when lying is permissible.  And right now, I'm changing my mind.* So, it's possible there are two conditions when lying is permissible.

Yes, some days do require 5 liters
The first, and without a doubt are the social niceties.  I will let you like your amazing accessory, fantastic footwear, and colorful coat.  If they make you happy and feel good about yourself, then good, I'm glad you like them (just as long as you don't feel compelled to get one for me, in which case, it looks great on you, but it just doesn't seem like the thing for me).  There are few things more powerful than wearing clothes that make you feel good about yourself.  Along that line there are the standard sorts of lies that work as social WD-40 that help get us out of those daily sticky situations. So, in all fairness, this is the number one and likely mostly indisputable reason to lie.

As I started that paragraph up there, I was going to say that it's acceptable to lie to children to help them maintain the magic and innocence of their young lives.  I was amused by a fellow Broad's story of the neighborhood "Music" truck. But then I remembered. I remembered the complete and utter devastation I felt when told that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy might not be quite as real as the chair I'm sitting on.  I believe children are capable of handling far more than adults are willing to tell them. Children, who may not be able to grasp the enormity of certain concepts can certainly grasp how it affects their daily life.  Please, do not tell your child that grandpa has just gone to sleep.  Explain death and the funeral.  Help them learn to grieve.

Learning the truth can be so very painful for children. The absolute trust they had placed in the authority figure is destroyed.  I think my distress at learning that the invisible gift-givers of my youth were not real was the loss of faith in what was told to me.  If Santa isn't real, what else isn't real?  Did anyone else read Cronin's The Passage?** In the new society, children are raised in a protected environment and the truth of their society kept from them until they reach a specific age.  Say 10 or 12.  I don't remember and I'm not finding the answer after 30 seconds of an internet search.  The kids are devastated. D.E.V.A.S.TA.T.E.D. Most of them will never again talk to the person who told them the truth. Now, granted, that was an author's exaggeration, but the point is when the child learns the truth, they also learn a little bit more about distrust and pain.

By all means, inspire mystery in the kids.  But tell them the basics.  Tell them more than you think they're able to handle, they'll surprise you. And tell them about Santa, but maybe in a way (and I get to say this because I have no kids and so get to write all this in ignorant bliss) that tells more about the spirit than about a person.

Six more reasons to lie? I can't find them, but I'm sure that if I'm caught with my pants on fire, I'll find a way to explain it away.

*Just prior to writing that sentence, I had image after image of my life scrolling through my head. The flip-flopping going on in my head was remarkable.  Honestly, I'm amazed I don't have a headache for all the thoughts rattling around within my skull.

**Please don't.  There are what could be a couple of good short stories in there, but pretty much it's a whole lotta nothing.  I really wish I could see what the 5-star reviewers saw in it. 

1 comment:

  1. Good point with Santa lies. I like the Santa/tooth fairy/etc childhood lies. I don't remember what age I was when I found out, but I wasn't upset and I think it was how they were presented to me - as an afterthought to the religiousness (except tooth fairy) and that's what I've done with my kids who now know "the truth". Santa is this and Santa is that, but the real meaning of Christmas is... They weren't upset when they found out.