Monday, May 4, 2009

People Lie

We all know this.

We look at others with distrust and suspicion, expecting them to slip some untruth past us when we're not paying attention. That's certainly a possibility, and lord knows, in this world of con-men and thieves, we should be vigilant against those trying to pull the wool over our eyes. But that's not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the lies we tell ourselves.

We all have this belief of ourselves that we're good people who don't deserve the ills visited upon us. For the most part, that's true. Then there are people who know better and do wrong anyway. They use excuses like "temporary insanity" or "he made me do it." The excuses are just that, excuses. We knew our wrong when we did it, and we made the choice anyway.

Then, after the fact, we find a million ways to re-write history. We abdicate our responsibility and say that we never would have done it except such and such happened.

To which I say, some people's lives are nothing but "such and such." Have you ever heard the phrase: there, but for the grace of God, go I ? Have you ever really considered what it means? Life is circumstance. Life is consequences. It is context.

I hear so many people say they would NEVER... And to them I say, you would. You just haven't been tested to the end of your strength yet. Your nature is strong, but is it as strong as the horrific pall of nurture can be?
  • Would you dig through the trash for food? Never! What if you didn't have the benefit of a good education, didn't have a family to take you in and were turned down at every job application?
  • Would you cheat on a test? Never! What if passing that test was all that was between familial shame and a hundred thousand dollars of debt on minimum wage or a three hundred thousand dollar job?
  • Would you steal? Never! What if your family was starving--literally, not the figurative starving of "I forgot to eat breakfast"--and the butcher left his shop unattended?
  • Would you rape someone? Never! What if they recruited you as a child soldier, tortured your family and held a gun to your head saying prove your loyalty or die? *shudder* (that one hurt to even write)
  • Would you kill someone? Never! What if they're strangling you and you get your hands on a gun?
The news is filled with people who truly believed that they would never. Neighbors are in shock on the news every night, telling the world he was such a good guy and they can't believe he would ever.

I'm not in the business of excusing bad behaviour or saying we should all go around doing our worst and blaming it on a bad day. I'm simply saying that if you recognize the shades of grey in your own morality you'll be less likely to ignore others on the way to the blackness of their own breaking point.

But my point is, people lie. To themselves. Every day. Lying to ourselves is one of the worst things we can do to others, because it holds them to a hypocritical double standard that we have not yet faced. It prevents us from seeing beyond our morality into their circumstances. It prevents us from understanding and forgiveness and the true nature of reality.

The lies we tell ourselves are the most dangerous kind. They prevent us from seeing the truth in others.

Just Finished: Bitten
Just Finished: Undead and Unappreciated
Currently reading: Midnight Awakening
Currently reading: Do The Math: Secrets, Lies and Algebra


Erika said...

I think you're right. 100% right. Who's to say what they would or would not do under the right or wrong circumstances. I'm glad to hear someone other than myself say it.

BTW - totally unrelated, how do you get that novel word count on the side bar?

Venus Vaughn said...

Erika - Sorry for the delay, I was at a dance convention all weekend.

To add the novel word counter go to and read the instructions. Then, in your Layout blogger page, select add a gadget. Then add a new HTML / Javascript. Paste in the stuff you got from writertopia and adjust the numbers to match your own.

Hope it works.
Thanks for the comment.