Monday, September 1, 2008
As youngsters we were all taught to tell the truth. And all about the beauty and necessity of complete honesty. Little children were told that their nose would grow with each lie, just as did that of Pinocchio. If we wanted to eventually go to heaven and see Jesus, then we had better never tell a lie. And there was little Georgie Washington who could not, and would never, lie about chopping down that precious little cherry tree. In church we heard sermons about “truth versus
falsehood,” driven home with expressions like: And the truth shall set you free!
I remember a high school class discussion in which our teacher compared the ease and simplicity of telling a lie to the multitude of difficulties that arise from the act. How untruthfulness usually leads to a multitude of complications that make it impossible to keep the story straight: Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!
And then, somewhere along the way, we all grew up and viewed the world as it really was. We looked around and found untruthfulness almost everywhere. Unscrupulous horse traders seemed to know thousands of secrets for temporarily doctoring up unsound horses and tranquilizing the mean and unmanageable ones. At least long enough for those early scam artists to make their deals and get out of the territory. Traveling barn painters could make a 5-gallon pail of “brand-name” paint last all week by thinning it with kerosene. Door-to-door salesmen traveled the country roads peddling marvelous new inventions that no homeowner or housekeeper could get along without. Some specialized in sure-cure remedies for just about anything that could ail a family, or their horses, dogs, cats, or other livestock.
And then there was the political world. To our great surprise, we learned that even some of our great leaders and politicians were not above an occasional white lie. Some of our past political conventions and campaign speeches, if scrutinized, almost have to be categorized as comic fiction. One prominent lady, I think it was Clare Boothe Luce, got a lot of publicity and more than modicum of criticism for writing about the creativity and artistic beauty of a “well told lie.” We probably reached low ebb when some of our national leaders went on record regarding testimony before Congress. They seemed to feel that it was perfectly legal and honorable for people representing a presidential administration to deliberately lie to and mislead our U.S. Congress in regard to a blatant breach of our nation’s foreign policy.
Then, suddenly, a soft, silent, comforting blanket of truth spread across the land. Someone came up with the weird new idea that a President of the United States should tell nothing but the truth to the people, the courts, and the Congress. Unheard of, but wonderful! Suddenly Washington D.C. became our Nation’s Confessional. Numerous great (?) leaders and politicians couldn’t wait to get in on the act. With a bit of help and nudging and prodding from Larry Flynt, they began admitting to extra-marital affairs and sexual peccadilloes from as many as 20 years previous. Suddenly Flynt, of Hustler magazine, was the unofficial leader of a whole new monogamy and morality sort of thing, practically a spiritual movement. No longer could Larry be considered merely a despised pornographer, but an indispensable national treasure, a patron saint of truth-in-sex, almost.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t object to the new trend toward veracity. I have nothing against the truth…even on the national governmental level…or this current, unprecedented trend toward complete honesty.
OF TRUTH AND LIES
I’m mostly truthful, but tell a
Few white fibs from time to time.
I don’t recall if I’ve ever
Told a falsehood all in rhyme.
But, with paper and pen, I could
Write up quite a “song and dance,”
But that would be foolish, the first
Liar just ain’t got a chance.
I’d like to boast about my past
And how great I used to be,
But who’d believe? Seems too many
Folks all know my history.
As a hunter, I’ve failed to bag
Much large and small game and stuff,
I don’t boast of big fish I’ve caught,
‘Cause my arms ain’t long enough.
I could tell of jackpots I’ve won,
For some, such tall tales are fine.
Casino friends know better, though;
They’ve all heard me gripe and whine.
I could describe my dancing skill,
Way back in my youthful past,
But folks tell me I move just like
My left leg is in a cast.
Lies don’t sit well with lots of folks;
Some are quick to take offense.
Then they want to argue and fight,
Lying makes no real good sense.
Guess I’ll stick to the real truth, but
That has one drawback, I fear,
It’s bound to put the kibosh on
My political career.