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To lie or not to lie

April 9, 2008

I stumbled upon Kamigoroshi’s brilliantly honest piece which jives with the pieces I wrote on Hillary Clinton’s campaign here and here. This is an edited version of what I wrote in his comments section.

I think lying or pretending to be someone you’re not is primordial. We learn about image engineering from none other than our parents, about the importance of looking good in other people’s eyes in order to gain some benefit. We learn about conditional love at a very young age.

Starting out as honest & naive creatures (kids have a disturbing habit of telling the truth), we quickly slide down the slippery slope and end up being ambivalent or selective about honesty. We quickly learn that the world rewards perfection but we’re born imperfect. Its a painful gap. But we soon learn there is a mechanism to escape the pain even if temporarily. We learn its profitable to deny we spilt the milk.

The rules don’t change as an adult. Seeing how the world rewards perfection, we pretend to be rich with things we can’t afford (bank loans & credit cards will take care of that), be someone we’re not (we got make-up and plastic surgery for that) or we can spin a few yarns to appear larger than life. We’ve got all the tools to become the perfect person that people want us to be. Being rewarded with a job or a relationship reinforces the efficacy of image re-engineering which soon becomes routine. Life is a competition, we tell ourselves, and everybody fudges the truth to get ahead so what’s the big deal.

If fugu (puffer fish) and chameleons can pretend to be things they’re not, I wonder, could it be that humans too are by nature predisposed to deception? Call it self preservation, camouflage, whatever you like but is it possible that lying is a Darwinian trait in all of us, that its actually natural to deceive (and by extension, unnatural to always be truthful)?

It has crossed my mind some time ago that maybe, just maybe, there’s no such thing as right or wrong, that there’s only consequences. And lying clearly has its consequences.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 10, 2008 7:48 am

    Nearly everyone lies – either a full lie or a white lie. Especially those arrogant boastful people who always x 10 for whatever they do/ say.

    I believe everyone wears different masks all the time – a mask to work is different from the mask at home; different from the mask with close friends. It’s an image everyone creates. 🙂

  2. Damien permalink*
    April 10, 2008 9:40 pm

    Hi. Yes everyone lies. Makes me wonder what would life be if everybody didn’t tell lies. Re masks, yeah Batman and Superman are different people by day and by night. Even superheroes need masks. 🙂

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