After Ian’s redoubtable battles with the trolls, I asked whether he would be prepared to write a short piece on the subject of lies for The Pub. This is the result, for which many thanks.
I’m not a psychologist. I know that there are comprehensive and far-reaching studies into many aspects of the human psyche. Lying being one of them.
I can give no clinical answer to the mechanics of lying. I can give no broad acceptable reason for why people, many of those we love the most, look us in the eye and lie to us. Is it a variation of fight or flight? Is it an instinctive tribal reaction to deny reality? Ensuring that the tribe, untroubled, goes about its daily business and is comforted knowing that a scandal awaits discussion over the cooking fires and goat pens? That the new scandal is a confection of lies, innuendo and carefully scripted prejudice is never questioned. The scandal produced is sufficient reward. Are lies survival tools?
Like all of us I have been lied to many times in my life. Some instances when you look at person telling the lies, you, quite bluntly, know they’re full of shit and pay them no heed. That, believe it or not, is the difference between lies and bullshit. They sometimes intertwine. Especially when lubricated with beer, bonhomie and barbecues. If lies were harmless fun; it would be these.
Some lies affect you for life.
I was born a twin. My twin sister died at 10 days old. I didn’t know this until I was in my teens. Though, in retrospect, and even now 60 years later I have never felt quite whole. My parents never told me of this. I don’t know why. Was there shame of some description? Perhaps I did something in the womb? Why did I survive? I’ll never know. Both parents have passed, with forgiveness. But not understanding. By not telling me the truth of my birth they lied by omission. The most brutal of lies.
When my older sister fell pregnant and was shunted off to a Salvation Army home for unwed mothers – Harvest Terrace, North Fremantle …turn left off the Stirling highway where the statue is, for any WA folk reading – the lie society expected the family to tell was of a daughter gone travelling. A very cruel, demeaning lie. Jackie, my sister, saw only the top her daughter’s head before she was whisked away to the only mother she would know. Jackie did then travel to Queensland and New South Wales for a couple of years. She was killed in a traffic accident in Sydney one week before she was to get on the Indian Pacific train and come home. All of this because society demanded a lie and as a family we were too weak to resist telling it.
Which is why the lies told by Rudd, Bowen, Crean and others about the leadership challenge numbers on the very day JGPM gave a heart-wrenching speech about unwed mothers and adopted children are all the more despicable. Lies have the cruellest of unintended consequences.
The blatant lying we have endured for the three or more years has pretty much numbed me. The outright obfuscation of truth, the wilful omission of facts is now, purely, the grist of a corrupted mill. A mish-mash of toxic ideology, weakened bravado and a path that leads, not to the heights where man can, should he choose to, glimpse the truth of all that he is and all he can be, but to the darkness of the lie. Could it be that we deserve no more?
I know lies can hurt me. Lies on a great scale can scar me. They can sadden me. They can wound my soul. But they will never destroy me.
A lying Government, such as the present one, can wound, scar and sadden me. They’ll never destroy the truth of me.
Deep down they understand that – and it scares them.