I have not always told the truth. I try. I really do. But every so often I find I have to make stuff up in order to amuse myself if no one else. It’s more imaginative fiction than truth-telling. Telling lies is in another realm altogether. We’ve all told them at times, some bigger than others. But lies they are. You know what I mean….paying compliments you don’t mean, why you can’t be at that function when you really can and so on. You know them all. We call them white lies. Doesn’t matter. The word lies doesn’t get removed. I’ve told some big ones too. Mostly to my parents (who are both gone and are not going to read this). As we all do. When I was 25 years old my mum was quite ill. I was in her room one day and she asked, with those pleading eyes that said I’d better be truthful, “Larry, have you ever kissed a girl? I’m serious. I want to know.” I said, “No mum.”
I have been known to embellish a story or two, here and there. Who hasn’t? The history books we used in school have been doing the same for centuries. Both heroes and villains have been made out of story enhancements. Legends arise from exaggerated tales of daring do and self-sacrifice. Most of the real heroes you’ll never read about. Hollywood is an enormous purveyor of taking real life stories and turning them into blown-up versions of the truth. Whenever they print ‘Based on a true story’ at the beginning of a movie, you know it means ‘We’ve stretched the truth to make a better story’….one they can sell. Watch ‘The Blind Side’ then read about the real man behind the story. He doesn’t like the way he was portrayed. Not really who he is, he says. Hollywood lies to tug at our heartstrings.
Once-upon-a-time I was a Christian missionary….back in my religious days….trying to convert Muslims to Jesus. Why? That’s what I thought I knew at the time. Before I went overseas, I had a Jewish boss at lace where I worked. When I told him I was leaving the business to become a missionary to muslims, he offered to support me financially. He hated Muslims so much that he was willing to back a Christian to save Muslims from Islam. That is the truth. No exaggeration. But I digress. One of my fellow missionaries and I got into an argument one time about American news broadcasts. She was from Philadelphia. She had said that all you get from Arab news transmissions were lies. I said all news services slant the news one way or another to suit their purposes, even in America. She shot back that all US news networks tell the truth because they were not allowed to lie. Fox News. I rest my case.
The man who tried to teach me Arabic at the mission centre, a former Syrian army major, told me the following joke:
A man died and went to heaven. As he sat waiting at the pearly gates, he noticed a tree over the way covered with bells instead of leaves. Every so often a bell would ring. Sometimes a couple at the same time. The man turned to St. Peter, who stood behind a podium in front of the gate ready to grant access to new arrivals, and asked what kind of tree this was and why the ringing bells. St. Peter told him this was the lying tree. Every time someone on earth told a lie, a bell would ring. Suddenly, the whole tree shook and every bell was clanging. The noise was deafening. “What on earth is that?” the man asked. “That was the Syrian News Broadcast” replied St. Peter. Brave joke from a Syrian about his own country.
Sales people have told me lies. Politicians certainly have. Friends lie to me sometimes and I have lied back. My kids have lied to me and I’ve told them a few porkies (Cockney rhyme….pork pies, lies) as well. I try not to, but sometimes it’s easier. I guess it goes back to getting our hands caught in the cookie jar. We’d rather lie or transfer the blame than accept what is and face the consequences. We don’t want to be in trouble, look bad or to be found wanting. We’d rather smooth over a tricky situation than complicate it further. No one really wants to hurt someone else’s feelings. So we lie. It’s a part of life. You’re a liar if you say it’s not.
I prefer imagining to lying. A good story told that tells the truth using fiction grabs me every time. It’s usually a good tale about good versus evil that works for me….Star Wars, Lord of the Rings or even one of Joseph Conrad’s books do a great job of it. The whole Harry Potter series is another contemporary example. Fanciful rather than trying to tell a real or a ‘true’ story. That’s the way to do it. The caption over my Blog page reads, ‘Where Reality Meets Imagination’. Where truth can actually be stranger than fiction, but fiction feeds reality. Besides, truth is in the mind of the beholder, just as with beauty. We interpret everything we see and do and experience. Our individual personality filters dictate the outcome of our thoughts and feelings.
I’m not talking about deliberate deception here. That’s a human trait that can have quite sinister results, unless you’re at war. But war is an entirely different subject and not one I care to engage at this point. Though war fascinates me, it mostly horrifies me. And the term ‘a just war’ is a lie too….in my opinion. There you go, you see. My truth is my opinion. And I don’t pretend to have all the facts of every situation and issue to know the truth about anything really.
So, imagine a world as John Lennon sang where none of the things that have created nastiness exists. See humour in the darkest places. Never take yourself too seriously but take everyone around you very seriously. Not everyone sees humour in dire situations. Not everyone can be funny for whatever reasons. Not everyone is who he and she says they are. Not everyone lets us be who we are. Guile is everywhere. Trust is hard to come by. But somewhere along the line, in the greater scheme of things, the truth will out. The truth, after all, is out there. Ain’t that the truth.