Friday, May 3, 2019

Truth be told....

When I was growing up, lying was a punishable offense in our home. In order to avoid detection of some of my inappropriate deeds, I began to learn all the subtleties of lying. For one thing, you could leave some things out of the story when confronted by mom or dad. It's called lying by omission. Another option was to add some extraneous detail that would moderate the lie and make it more acceptable. Or you could exaggerate the situation to make the lie seem necessary. Or you could try and project an image of a concerned and caring son, who wouldn't deliberately do a bad thing, only do it in ignorance or believing it was the right thing to do. This approach could sometimes mean the difference between punishment and mercy.

       Some of the ways of lying I learned from my sister. A good example was one night when my parents were out and our grandmother was watching us. We were at an age where siblings fight. The object of our fight that night is long forgotten but the result I remember well. My sister was older and stronger than I was. At some point in our struggle, she threw me on the glass top of our coffee table and broke it. When my parents came home and saw the destruction, my sister told them I broke it. Yes, technically, it was my body that did the damage. She left out the rest of the context and as the younger and rowdier sibling I was punished for the damage. It's called lying by blaming!

On another occasion, I was anxious to join a ball game with kids in the neighborhood in the empty lot next to our home. This was an after dinner routine that was often a highlight of my day. As i was about to go out the door, my dad asked me to empty the wastepaper basket into the furnace in the basement. I grabbed the basket, did the deed and ran out to play ball. A few minutes later my dad called me into the house and asked me if I had emptied he waste basket in the furnace. I said "yes." He then led me downstairs to show me the pieces of paper that didn't make it into the furnace,  scattered on the basement floor. This was an instance of what my father considered a partial truth and it meant missing a ball game that night and a spanking besides. Partial truths sometimes substitute for an outright lie.

As a kid, I thought my mother had mysterious powers for detecting lies. For one thing, you didn't want to look her in the eye. When she wanted to know the answer to a question and you were lying, you knew her next response would be, "look at me!" It was hard to know what she read in your face but she always saw the fib there. The other drawback to not being straight with mother was she seemed to have eyes in the back of her head. She always seemed to know more about what I was doing than I did.

Pinocchio came out as a Disney movie before i was born. It must have influenced the childhood refrain one heard on the playground. "Liar, liar / pants on fire / nose as long as a telephone wire." Even in the childish circles of my upbringing, lies were recognized and called out.

Truth be told, I believe I learned in our home and larger community that lying was wrong. One lie can lead to another and another and before you know it, a person doesn't know the difference between a lie and the truth. Some people lie knowing it's wrong but believing they have valid reasons for doing so. You may encourage someone on their death bed with words of healing, knowing full well they will never get better. But even in such circumstances, it may be faulty reasoning. Perhaps the ill one is waiting for someone to acknowledge their approaching death and talk with them about it.

Our Senator Thune made a passionate speech on the floor of Congress during the impeachment trial of President Clinton. It was clear Clinton lied under oath about his relationship to Monica Lewinsky. Thune said, "The President genuinely believes that he is telling the truth. We are left with one of two equally miserable realities: either the President chooses contempt and complete disregard for the truth, or his conscience is so diminished as to leave him unable to discern the truth from his lies. Both conclusions are ruinous to a constitutional republic whose leaders must command the trust of those they lead."

         It was an excellent speech! Senator Thune mentioned the word "trust" on several occasions. "Lying to the American people is a betrayal of trust." "It is a matter of trust." The Senator rendered his decision in favor of impeachment after "much study, much thought, and much prayer."

As of April 1, 2019, President Trump has made 9,451 false or misleading claims, according to the Washington Post. My parents would be appalled, even though they were dyed in the wool, conservative Christians.  From, I'll release my income taxes to "never;" from I don't know anything about a payment to Stormy Daniels to, yes I did, and all the others; there is no trust! 

Are you praying about grounds for impeachment Senator? Lots of your fellow Americans are!

Carl Kline

No comments: