Lately our landline is being inundated by a particularly loathsome scamming group. It turns out there are these terrible companies that try to steal information from people through the computer, and they can also get one’s phone number and try to con a person into buying “security” for her computer. The people will try and breach the firewall on the computer and then use all sorts of trickery and big fat lies to rob others.
I’ve always been fascinated with lies. I don’t remember the first lie I ever told. I’m sure it was one of self-preservation, the kind of lie a kid can be half-way into before realizing it is a lie. Picture it. A parent hears a crash in the other room, jumps up and runs in and finds a kid standing over some broken bit of kitch.
“Did you break that?” the parent asks.
Quicker than lightening the kid says, “NO!”
We all know why the kid denies responsibility. The negative response is not even the answer to the question. It is a yelp of misery. “NO!” I don’t want to be punished. “NO!” I did not mean to do that. “NO!” This is not happening. Let’s go back in time and try again.
That’s bad. That kind of lie opens the can of parenting worms no one likes to confront. Still, that lie is easy to forgive.
Another lie that can be easy to forgive is the one that wants to come from kindness. “Do you like this outfit?”
“Sure. It looks great.” Meaning, it doesn’t really look great, but I can tell you like the outfit so I’m going to spare your feelings and tell what we in this cliched world call “a little white one.”
Lies of that order are ill informed and guaranteed to backfire. So be it. They are also fully forgivable. They mean well, and intention matters. In all things intention matters, whether we admit that or not.
Some people will even argue there is a caliber of lie that is good. If you are protecting the life of someone that is in jeopardy, you might feel justified in misleading someone. After all, Moses had a sister who told a lie that made it possible for his own mother to be with him and protect him and love him. I see the argument, but I’m not sure the truth wouldn’t have done just as much good.
Aside from the philosophical arguments about justifiable falsehood, there are some lies that stink like cat feces. They are the lies that are intended to hurt others, dupe others, rob others. These are the lies that erode the world and the soul. These are the lies that lead to fraud. These are the lies that blunt the conscience and yield some of the worst evils perpetrated on this earth. These are the lies that people tell on the phone who say they got a “red flag” on their end, whatever that means, about my computer, or my mother’s computer. These are the lies that say one person is more valuable than another person because one person is more educated or wealthy than another, or because of the color of her skin, or the location of his birth, or the day or year that life began. These are the lies we need to resist forgiving and attempt to suffocate. These are the lies we should fight.
(I’m ranting. I really hate those pestering calls…and big fat lies.)