By Stephen Lautens
May 25, 2013
May 25, 2013
I don’t know why so many adults have trouble with telling the truth.
We’ve spent a couple of weeks with people who hold high office in this country struggling with the truth. Without naming names, we’ve seen a series of serious political scandals dragged out inch by painful inch.
“Facts” keep changing so fast that it’s hard to keep up with them, and there’s clearly more to come. What we’re assured is the truth today will be further massaged, messaged and re-spun until it’s unrecognizable, and the spinners are counting on us being so confused by the blizzard of misinformation that we give up trying.
I’m not quite sure when telling the truth became optional in public and private life.
The truth is often inconvenient. It can cause us great pain and cost us dearly, and it’s only natural that there are times when we’d like to avoid its unpleasant consequences.
But we’re supposed to be adults, and one of those adult things is to tell and face the truth. I was going to say “even politicians”, but that really should be “especially politicians”.
And before you say I’m hopelessly naive, let me assure you I’ve been around politicians of every political persuasion all of my adult life. None of them are perfect, but not all of them choose to lie when the going gets rough.
The lie is supposed to get you out of trouble, but in reality it just compounds it. In the age of social media and ubiquitous cameras, someone is going to catch that lie and compare what you said with what you did. We’re all on the record.
I think there are a lot of human failings that we’re pretty forgiving about, especially when we admit our own lapses while showing those other mostly forgotten and underrated emotions, a sense of shame and remorse.
I discovered in my own personal life that on those happily rare occasions when my behaviour was less than stellar, coming clean was the best policy. When I screwed up at work, after trying to fix the problem, my first stop was my boss’ office to explain what happened. Some were more understanding than others, but that isn’t the point.
The real point is being able to live with yourself and for others to know that you are a person who can be trusted to tell the truth when the going gets tough. That is pretty much essential if your marriage is going to outlast your cell phone contract.
Like I said, sometimes our behaviour makes it hard to tell the truth. We’re afraid of losing our jobs, loved ones or the idea that we’re perfect.
In fact, if something is hard to do, that probably means it’s the right thing to do. The path of the easy fix is usually turns out to be anything but.
For those things we do that are truly unforgiveable, I suppose you have little to lose by lying, but you’re only putting off the inevitable. Often it’s the lie itself that’s unforgiveable. Mistakes can be made, but betrayal is a choice.
Whether husband, wife, mayor, senator or Prime Minister, there’s a price to be paid for losing someone’s trust, and the fastest way to do that is to lie your way out of a jamb.
By the way, lying includes not telling the whole truth as well.
And, if you don’t think we can handle the truth, you’re either underestimating the audience or really did something that’s a deal breaker.
It also helps to say you’re sorry once in a while.