Liar, liar, pants on fire!” is a children’s chant when someone is caught in an untruth. No one, whether the liar nor the chanters, considers that an untruth occurred at some point to be very unusual or shocking. Lying is an unfortunate part of the fabric of life as far as each is concerned.

My mother told me on more than one occasion that not long after beginning the first grade, I’d come home from school crying and upset. I’d found out that someone had lied. She’d had to explain to me that people sometimes said things that were not true.

How that could be? I had no idea people lied. I don’t personally recall the incidents. I do know my parents were honest to a fault, as some might say. My father never cheated on taxes nor did anything the least bit dishonest, as far as I could ever tell. The same could be said of my mother. I don’t believe lying, or cheating was ever a part of their lives, even in small matters. That may be a naïve point of view, but that’s the impression I’ve always had. It’s not something I expect in life.

With much of what I write in these columns, the ideas come unbidden in the wee hours, sometimes at 3 AM when I should be asleep. Fortunately, this one came at 6:30. Because I don’t get up immediately but wait until I feel compelled, the ideas tend to wander into the realm of wishful thinking or the fantastic.

On this occasion, I got to thinking – what if we all grew up not knowing anything but honesty and truth? What if every nasty, evil, or even slightly unkind thought that came into our heads was told to those around us and easily accepted, just as we accept that people do lie today? As I sit here now, putting my thoughts into words, it is hard to wrap my head around the whole concept. Seemingly, smaller to larger bits of lying and cheating is so much a fact of life that we even have names for the sizes and types of untruths told. Little white lies, gossip, fibs, perjury, distortion, deception, exaggeration, half-truth, equivocation, falsification, misinformation, misrepresentation, and slander are just a few examples. The list is actually much larger.

I continued to mull the whole thing over. I believe the vast majority of people (if they thought it was possible), would yearn for a world without deception and without scorn for those who were honest enough to share their personal errors or truths. What freedom would be felt if every thought would not be harshly judged when uncomfortable information was brought to light?

What if the urge to cheat on one’s spouse were spoken as soon as it was thought of and then not heavily judged? Could this not begin a communication that would resolve the underlying problem? What if the urge to steal a toy would be spoken of as soon as it was considered? What would pass between the merchant and the child? I think it might be a world of forgiveness and understanding.

Charley Pride once said, “I was always a dreamer, in childhood especially. People thought I was a little strange.” I’m glad I’m not the only one.

Jerry Society & Culture

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