Truth or Consequence

I learned how to bike at the age of nine. I have scars on my knees to prove it.

I love carrots. A lot.

I will move out of our house next month. I’ve been looking for a new place to rent since last week.

I am lying.

(I wouldn’t know how to balance on a bike if my life depended on it, I think cooked carrots are disgusting, and I will not be moving out of our house anytime soon, or even ever.)

According to Wikipedia.com, a lie is any untruthful statement. This means that for something to be a lie, something has to be the truth first. How ironic can it be that the only truthful statement above is the fact that I was lying.

Truth. Lie. What is the difference anyway?

What's behind every truth?

What’s behind every truth?

Two days ago, I watched the movie “The Invention of Lying”. In the movie, the people did not know how to lie. Lying does not exist in their consciousness, and everyone spoke the truth. Or at least, the “truth”. If the waiter detested his job, he would readily express it before he takes your order. Advertisements wouldn’t put up fancy words like, “Open happiness” when promoting their product. They’d say, “It’s just water, with lots of sugar”. (Yes, I’m referring to Coke here. Watch the movie to understand better ;))

Then, there was this man, who was born a loser. He was fired from his job as a writer for film screenplays. because his boss said his writing was mediocre, and his material was boring. Before leaving the office,he was given going-away gifts by his secretary and his co-worker in the form of harsh and insulting words. Honest words,but harsh and insulting nonetheless.

this guy had it all figured out.

this guy had it all figured out.

This guy was such a loser that his life was pretty much a series of unfortunate events. Until he discovered something no one in his lifetime ever did: he found out how to tell a lie. And when he told the very first lie,

Life happened. Basically, the unfortunate events rolled out into an itinerary of amazing opportunities for him. He was no longer the loser.

One striking thing about the movie is the people’s mindless devotion to whatever the guy was saying. They did not even verify a single thing he said. In a world where the truth is taken for granted, where only the truth has existed, why would they take time to check whether the man was lying or not?And because the man was in the position of absolute credibility, he lied freely, without fearing accountability and responsibility for what he uttered.

It is surprising to realize that, in that split second when a lie leaves your mouth, it is at the liminal stage between truth  and deception. It is not yet a fully formed lie. I think that an utterance only becomes a lie when another party receives the utterance and believes it to be true. Lying is always a two-way thing.

A friend to his friend, a husband to his wife, a person to himself.

But why is lying so much easier than telling the truth, that as children, we still had to be admonished with platitudes like, “Honesty is the best policy” and “Liars go to hell”?

And here, we turn to another platitude to know the answer. “The truth hurts”. The movie demonstrated that. In that world where lying was not included in their verb list, people told each other crass comments and unfiltered observations. In each other’s faces. Strangely enough, everything they said is negative. So I wondered, if we all told the truth, would everything that would come out of our mouths, insults and unfriendly remarks? Are the only things true about ourselves, about each other, about the world, ugly and abhorrent?

Is lying, then, a coping mechanism, a remedy to paint the world with brighter colors,  a recipe to sweeten the words that are formed out of bitterness and indifference?

This is sad. Go watch the movie and figure it out yourself.

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