Monday, December 12, 2016

Where were you? 9/11/2001

Faced with a typical Tuesday morning,
No drama on the workday schedule.
Arriving early in a caffeine stupor and
Ready to tread in tempestuous seas.

The news arrives slowly, trickling in:
A plane, a building, small tragedy brewing.
No thought of terror or hell-bent insanity.
That kind of thing doesn’t happen here.

And then it does –
          A second catastrophe
Man-made in vengeance –
          No logic, no mercy.
And now a third and yet a fourth.
How many furies fly? How many innocents
Yet to perish ‘ere the nightmare resolves?
How many unanswered questions arise?
We watch, we wait, we pray for fair outcome,
But dread obscures hope in a sickening mist.

And then the sky comes tumbling down,
First one then the other in fury and fire.
And the world stops turning as the toll keeps rising.
We stand in stunned silence, shivering, numb.

Our resolve ferments as the dust starts to settle.
We seek understanding but grasp only air.
Today we will grieve seeking out bitter comfort.
Tomorrow the serpent –
          A duty to pay.

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Free to Choose

There was a time - eons ago - when
Choices were much simpler.
A left, a right,
A yes or no,
On or off, up or down,
A smile, a frown, a blank response,
A pill to ease a restless night.
We were young with foolish hearts,
No thought of how the world ensues.
Little to win,
          Less to lose,
But we were free,
          Free to choose.
Now the weight of worlds roll by and
Here stand I dazed and confused.
The when and what,
The where and why,
My whole life passing in review.
But duty calls and I must go.
No petty purpose can excuse.
I will fight and
I will serve
So others may be free to choose.
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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Visions of Liberty

Dare I wake tempestuous dreams of
Stormy skies and trembling walls to
Stumble through the midnight mire,
The wanton waste named Yesterday.
Who can chase this clamoring cacophony of
Warning bells?
Who will quell this quivering, this shivering
Of servitude?
Once, in youth, a vision stirred
Beneath the willows sheltering arms
Where every heart is filled with hope,
A prophesy of pristine realms.
But fate is cruel and Caesar’s rule
Requires a tribute to be paid,
Hard decisions to be made before
The ogre overwhelms.
The muddled masses must arise
In fervor and intensity
To keep the dream, the quest alive.
The vision of sweet liberty.

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Monday, October 31, 2016

Patriot Dreams

Standing on the precipice of
            Willful measure,
                    Far removed from
Rambling reality
He holds his breath… and waits
                  In watchful vigilance.
Prepared to give,
            To live…
                        To die
If die he must to keep them safe.
He never stops to question why.
The why was answered long before
His watchful eyes reflected on       
The distant haze of far horizons.
Lessons from the bowels of Hell have
Been his teacher,
Taught him well,
Filled his nights with restless dreams of
Secrets he can never tell.
Failure? Unacceptable.
A traitor’s wage is paid in blood.
The patriot will never sleep
Til others stand where he has stood.
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Sunday, September 25, 2016


How did I let it come to this?
This path
            This scandal
                        This shame.
What was I thinking?
          Why wasn’t I thinking?
Should have known better.
Now I suffer the flame.
I could deny.
            I could lie
                   (or confess)
Heavens no!
            Such a blow.
Would my ego survive?
I could dive in a hole til
The tempest has passed.
So confused,
                        Putting choices to rest.
If the real truth should surface
          (It eventually will)
My good name,
            My good favor,
My Good God! Gone for good.
So, I wait for my fate and
Accept my comeuppance.
My bad choice.
           Bad behavior.
Do it over?
          Wish I could.

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Real or Fake

Reality can be overrated.
Raindrops dance on windowsills
Like tiny elves, “Say, are you real?”
Firefly fairies blinking twilights’
Silent message reveal the
Secrets of the universe.
Logic whimsies in reverse to
Shift from precious to perverse
Looking for a soul to steal.
Quiet rainbows cast their net from
Red to green to violet
            Filling mind’s eye to distraction.
            No room left for sad regret.
Are you real or should I quake to
Feel the magic that you make?
Will you be there when I wake to
Ease my mind lest I forget?
Peaceful dreams to fill my night
All forgotten with the light.
Phantom promises you make.
Are you real?
Are you fake?

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Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Grace and Disgrace

The distant darkness of deceit
Casts bold its shadow long and lean
Across the melancholy sea
Crying out to be set free.
But freedom cannot find her echo
Muted by defined disgrace.
Whimpering she seeks her solace
Cloaked by veils of blackened lace.
Shame becomes her sole companion,
Loneliness a bosom friend.
Solitude her only comfort as she
Contemplates the end.
Was it worth the pain and sorrow
Playing out your vain disguise?
Now the unmasked interloper
Paying dearly for her lies.
Lies are but the Devil’s scalpel
Slashing scars on Beauty’s face, and
She could spend a thousand lifetimes
Trying to get back to grace.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Truth in Advertising; and Other Fantasies

Do you believe everything you see and read in advertising? No, wait. Let me restate that. Do you believe “anything” you see or read in advertising? If you answered yes to either question, it may be time for a reality check.

There is very little in the fantasy world of advertising that holds any resemblance to actual fact, let alone truth. Indeed, it is the manipulation of facts to the advantage of the advertiser that results in the actual sale of their products or services.

Let’s face it. The sole purpose of advertising is to sell you something that you may or may not need in order to make a profit for the seller. Even if the product or service is labeled “non-profit” or “Free offer” rest assured that someone, somewhere is out to gain some of what you have to their own advantage.

So, does that make the advertising game evil and/or despicable? Of course not. That is, unless they intentionally set out to deceive and swindle their customers, in which case they are lower than low. This is why the old adage “Caveat Emptor” (Let the buyer beware) is older than the dead language that spawned it.

Anyone should be allowed a reasonable profit margin for the things they sell. The question becomes, “Who determines what is reasonable?”  The answer? Quite simply, you do. By you I mean the buyer; hopefully, an informed and cautious consumer.

It should be obvious that there are a lot of advertisers out there who are ready to pounce upon an unsuspecting and uninformed public. If this was not the case there would be no need for so many regulatory commissions and agencies or consumer protection advocates all trying to defend the public against being ripped off.

Smoke and mirrors, deception, illusion, bait and switch, half-truths, near-truths, appealing to the senses, sexual titillation and innuendo, subliminal messages and, yes, even children and puppies are all available for use by advertisers to manipulate a waiting public and convince them to buy, buy, buy. It is such an onslaught that we can be overwhelmed at times.

Often advertisements make no sense at all. They are not meant to. The product for sale may not even be mentioned until the last possible moment, almost as an afterthought. Why? They simple want to make sure to grab your attention. They want to make their product memorable through association. The more outrageous the ad, the more likely you are to remember it. Eventually, through repetition, you will begin to make the association until the time comes to purchase their product. Doesn’t matter if theirs is the best choice. It will be the one you remember. Results? Product sold.

We have all seen these television commercials. People acting outrageously, idiotically, even moronic all in the name of having a good time so that you will associate their product with the fun and excitement, hoping that, if you feel good through association, you will remember them when the time comes to open your wallet. Personally, I have a real aversion to buying a product advocated and endorsed by idiots. But that’s just me. Apparently, I am in the minority as the ads persist.

So, what can we do to protect ourselves? I have complied a list of a few tips that may be helpful.

1.      Be skeptical. Any offer that sounds too good to be true probably is not true, at least not completely.

2.      Be practical. Ask yourself, “Is this something I really need?” in the overall scheme of things would your money be better spent on something else? Consider alternatives.

3.      Compare. There are always alternatives. Compare prices matched with value. Can you get the same thing somewhere else for less?

4.      Read reviews. For most products you can find reviews by others who have rated it. These reviews may be mixed, but should give you a better picture of the flaws and advantages of making the purchase.

5.      Delay. Don’t make impulse purchases. Mull it over for a day, a week, a lifetime.

You may be able to come up with additional tips on your own. Nevertheless, if you consider these five, you will be well on your way to making more informed decisions and protecting yourself against the fantasy of truth in advertising.


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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Truth in Politics; and Other Oxymorons

First of all, let’s make clear the definition of the word oxymoron, as there may be a precious few who may be unfamiliar with the term. Oxymorons are two or more terms used in combination that seem to contradict one another. My wife’s favorite examples are “Jumbo shrimp” and, much to my chagrin, “Military Intelligence.” I was M.I. in the Army.

Now that we have a clear definition of the term, it should be self-evident as to why we might refer to “truth in politics” as an oxymoron. After all, the very nature of the political arena lends itself to deceit and distrust while presenting the pristine smile of morality and reliability.

This is not to say that all politics is negative or that all politicians are habitual liars. No doubt there are many honorable men and women in the political arena whose aim and ambition is to serve the constituency that put them in office in the first place. But even that altruistic motive can put them in direct conflict with opposing forces who are all fighting for their own slice of a finite pie.

Conflict, of course, is central in the political arena. As the old saying goes, “Politics makes strange bedfellows.” Alliances are formed, deals struck and compromises made that, in the real world, would not have been imagined. The worst part is that so much information is withheld from the general population about these backroom deals (all in the name of protecting the public) that we tend to disbelieve almost anything that comes out of any politician’s mouth. How does that old joke go?
Question: How do you know when a politician id lying?
Answer: His lips are moving.

It is a rather cruel joke, but what are we to believe?   

There are so many excuses for it. For example:

·         Disclosure could compromise the deal.

·         The public is not ready for it.

·         It might affect the coming election.

·         The general population wouldn’t understand. It’s for their own good.

Oh, and my personal favorite:

·         It’s a matter of National security.

There are all kind of reasons that information is manipulated or the truth stretched or abandoned altogether, but politicians seem to be the masters of the art. You might say the same is true about lawyers, since so many politicians practice (or practiced) law at one time or another.

Question: What do you call 100 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?
Answer: A good start.

But lawyers lie for different reasons, and, generally speaking, they are representing one client at a time. Their goal is to win at all cost. Also, lawyers generally (but not always) believe in the innocence of the client they are representing or the guilt of the accused they are prosecuting. This kind of honesty can relate to all of us.

If you honestly believe that what you say is true based on the facts s you know them, regardless of what others believe, then you are not lying. Naturally, things may change. New facts may be revealed, errors in logic uncovered that may cause you to change your position. This happens all the time in politics, often to the detriment of the politician.

Once a politician takes a stand on a position, it becomes a matter of public record. But political climates, much like the weather, are constantly changing. New evidence comes to light, or a politician may have to change a position on one issue to gain favor on another seemingly more important one. It’s called, “You scratch my back….”

Naturally, down the road this has the potential to come back and bite him in the butt. He may be viewed as a waffler, indecisive, unreliable, even, God forbid, a liar. But changing your position in light of new evidence or changing circumstances does not necessarily constitute prevarication. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that opposition forces will forestall use of such perceived inconsistencies against you. After all, perception is everything in politics.

So, why would anyone with a modicum of common sense want to enter the whirlwind circus known as the political arena? Politics, where every move, every decision is scrutinized, analyzed, criticized, debated and recorded. For the money? Perhaps wealth can come at some point for the truly successful politician. But entry level compensation is modest at best and many lower-level “Public Servants” are forced to “Keep their day jobs” to survive economically.

But there are other perks that come with a career in politics. Power, influence, notoriety and a host of other ego-stroking motivations come into play. But it is the potential for power that is the most dangerously addictive and most likely to result in lies and deceit. It is also the most difficult to keep in check.

Power can be more intoxicating and dangerous than the most addictive of drugs. It feeds on itself, forever demanding more and more until the individual disappears altogether and all that is left is the mechanism of ever-increasing influence.

There are extreme examples in history of course, the most infamous being Adolph Hitler and his Nazi regime. To most of the free-thinking world he was a monster, the very definition of evil and human corruption. So, how did he get millions upon millions to follow him with unmitigated abandon in a quest for world domination?

Hitler raised his people up through a series of promises of a better life in a time of extreme hardship. He gave them hope and instilled a feeling of superiority that caused them to blindly follow him. But Hitler wore many faces, and once he had seized power he used any and all methods to not only keep it but to expand upon it.

Of course, Hitler is perhaps the most notable and notorious example of political abuse of power. There are many others, but no need to launch into an extended diatribe here. The truth is we are all involved in politics, albeit in a lesser scale, in our daily lives.

Life is a never-ending series of negotiations: Parents with children, neighbors with neighbors, community groups, the PTA, social clubs, even social media to some extent. Actually, anywhere people interact can be seen as a political arena, and it will usually be the case that one or more individuals will be seeking personal advantage and willing to use less than ethical means to achieve it.
Does this make politics inherently evil? No. but it does point out the need for vigilance. There is nothing wrong with trust. Trust is an admirable trait. But it should never be blind trust. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Trust your own gut feelings but search for facts. Know your friends as well as your advisories, and always be aware of the frailties of human nature.

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Compassionate Lie

            Have you ever told someone they look nice, even though you know they don’t, just to spare their feelings? Did you ever console someone who is going through a dark time in their life by assuring them that ‘everything will be alright’ even though you know that disaster is imminent? Have you apologized for something that isn’t your fault just to keep peace? If any of these scenarios applies to you, you are intimately familiar with the compassionate lie.

            There are many who believe that a lie is a lie is a lie and it is never justified, that truth and total honesty are paramount and should be forthcoming in any and all situations. They believe that blunt truth, no matter how hard it stings is the only path to follow. But at what cost?

            We are, in the final analysis, social beings with feelings and aspirations that need, at least occasionally, to be stroked and encouraged. That’s not to say that all praise arises out of false pretenses. Quite the contrary. Genuine praise for effort and accomplishments can encourage us to even greater heights, challenging us to achieve even more. But when that praise becomes obviously patronizing or contrite it can have the opposite effect. So, we should choose when and to what extent to apply the compassionate lie.

            We have been lied to, lied for and lied about almost from day one. Parents lie to their children, children lie to each other, about each other, etc. And why?

            A parent may believe the child isn’t quite old enough or mature enough to know or handle the truth about certain things, but they are gullible enough to be fooled into believing some made up contrivance as long as it sounds reasonable. After all, children believe in nursery rhymes and fairy tales, so what’s the harm, right? They’ll under when they get older that it is for their own good.

            But what if they don’t understand when they get older? What if they are resentful? Will they be forgiving or will they continue the pattern with their own children? And it this really a bad thing?

            Bending or stretching reality to those who are ill-prepared to receive it is simply another form of the compassionate lie. Whether that lack of preparation is due to immaturity, misinformation or naivety is unimportant as long as the intent is to spare the recipient from harm. The intent is not to deceive, but to protect, to delay the truth until such a time that it might be better understood.

            As adults the compassionate lie becomes a bit more complex. Take, for instance, that famous courtroom scene from the book/play/movie where the prosecutor keeps badgering the witness to breakdown and tell the truth only to be told in no uncertain terms, “You can’t handle the truth!” Was the witness hiding the truth to cover up a scandal and avoid prosecution or to protect an unwitting public from a truth that could cause chaos and wide-spread panic? Was his a despicable falsehood or was it a compassionate lie? You be the judge.

            Sometimes, in our very darkest hours we cling to any little bit of hope we can imagine. Perhaps we even lie to ourselves, deny the reality of our situation, and accept unrealistic solutions longing for a better outcome. Surprisingly, more often than not, things have a way of working themselves out; perhaps not always the way we want, but not as disastrous as we expect. Did we deceive ourselves into accepting false hope or was it that hope, as elusive as it might seem, that kept us going, saw us through. That compassionate lie told only to ourselves became our savior.

            So, is the compassionate lie really so bad? Is it really a lie at all, or is it merely a device meant not to deceive, but merely to delay disclosure, spare hurt or instill hope? Perhaps it is simply a matter of time and place and circumstance. You be the judge… and use it wisely.


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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Fess Up. You’ll Feel Better

Guilt! Is there a more powerful force in the universe? Okay, so there probably is a more powerful force in the universe, but when it comes to human motivation it ranks right up there with love and anger and other high-level emotions.

To know guilt is to admit to having a conscience. To feel guilt is to admit to oneself that we have done something wrong, something inappropriate, something that goes against the normal moral and ethical code of society.

Naturally, there are many levels of guilt that are directly related to the intensity and seriousness of the offense. Whether it stems from something as mundane as pilfering a snack from the cookie jar when we are told not to spoil our dinner or results from the more serious sin of adultery or the capital crime of murder, guilt is guilt and we must deal with it.

We are taught from infancy the difference between right and wrong. Of course, some of us have better teachers than others, which in and of itself, leads to a greater likelihood that moral standards will be set at a higher level. We humans seem to learn best by example, so environment and associations play a big part in our early development.

Think about it. Who were your childhood heroes? Mine were such stalwart characters as Hop-a-long Cassidy, Roy Rodgers, The Lone Ranger and Superman. Even though those first three were gun-totin’ cowboy types from the wild-wild west, they stood for something good in all of us. Theirs was a high moral ground that could never be undermined or corrupted. And Superman? Well, what can you say? Truth, justice and the American way. He was the ultimate superhero. Who better for a child to emulate?

But superheroes are not always those cowboy and comic book characters we read about. Sometimes reality can trump fiction by a large margin. In fact, our first superheroes are probably very real to us: Our parents, an older sibling, Uncle Billy - the war hero, Aunt Jane - who brings us the most marvelous presents, the beat cop on the corner in the shiny clean-pressed uniform, we never know just where our inspiration might spring forth, but it can make a lasting impression from our earliest days forward.

But that coin can potentially land on the other side: the guy on the street corner who always seems to have a fistful of money and lots of influence in the neighborhood. Or the guy who says he can protect you from the bad things that go on, but only if you join the neighborhood gang. You can fill in the blanks with other examples of bad behavior better that I, but the fact remains that the influences are always there and they help to shape our moral compass.

Not all who are surrounded by negative influences grow to be morally bankrupt adults. Quite the contrary. Many find the intestinal fortitude to stand up to these negative influences and rise above their environment to achieve a higher moral ground. To think otherwise is to deny reality. Morality is a conscious choice we make every day of our lives and the basic element of conscience, which brings us back to guilt.

We’ve all known someone in our lives who could, as they say, guilt us into doing anything. There is the stereotypical Jewish/Catholic/Italian or other ethnic mother who is expert in laying guilt trips on their children. Not that this need be an ethnic trait as it might occur in any family at any level. And it is not limited to family.

Charitable organizations often result to guilt as a motivational tool to garner support. How, in this land off plenty, can we allow the poverty-stricken, starving children of –Insert Country’s name here – perish without lending our (your) support? “Send money now!” It is a reality. But it is a reality that most of us fail to consider until someone reminds us and shocks us with guilt in order to spur us to action.

But guilt is not always cast upon us. It often comes from inside and this beckons back to our original premise of knowing the difference between right and wrong. As we have seen, this is a learned process that develops over time through experience. And the old saying, “confession is good for the soul” harkens directly to the depth of our commitment to admitting the truth, not only to others but to ourselves.

So, guilt can be a good thing if it can ultimately get us to truth. Truth is, after all, what we expect from others. Should others expect any less from us? So, fess up, Skippy. You’ll feel better.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Why We Lie

            Everybody tells lies at one time or another. What’s that you say? Not you? You never lie? Keep reading. Let’s see if you still believe that by the end of this piece.

            I have often made the bold statement, “If you don’t want to hear the truth, don’t ask me any questions.” The fact is I firmly believe in telling the truth. It has always been important to me. However, telling the truth is not always as valiant as it seems, especially when it can be spiteful or hurtful. Let’s examine the many and varied reasons people lie.

            Here are a few bullet points about why we lie:

·         To avoid punishment

·         To avoid embarrassment

·         For personal gain

·         To get out of doing something

·         To cover up an indiscretion

·         To protect of help someone else

·         To avoid confrontation

·         Out of anger or spite (or to be hurtful)

·         Lies of omission. Things unsaid

·         Lying for fun (Practical jokes)

·         To make people like us

·         To influence a decision

·         To get sympathy

·         Out of habit. An addiction to lying

·         The inability to accept the truth. Lying to ourselves


When we think about the lies that people tell perhaps the first thing we think of is the criminal who lies to avoid prosecution and punishment for crimes against society. These are usually considered the most despicable and hurtful of all lies.

            What is the first thing most criminals do when confronted with accusations of a crime? They deny culpability. It doesn’t matter if they are guilty or not, the first response is to deny, deny, deny. They simply do not want to be punished.

            It is much like the child who broke the lamp and refused to confess to it. Mom heard the crash and Johnny was the only one in the room at the time.

“Johnny. Did you break the lamp?”

“No, Ma. It just fell over on its own.” Lie number one

“Were you throwing the ball inside again?”

“No, Ma. Honest, I wouldn’t.” Lie number two.

“So, how did the ball wind up under the lampshade?

“I have no idea.”

You get the picture.

So, lawbreakers (even breakers of Mom’s law) will lie and proclaim their innocence until evidence becomes so overwhelming that further denial proves futile. Of course, if they are indeed innocent their denial is not a lie regardless of the evidence against them. In Johnny’s case perhaps it was the law of gravity that caused the lamp to teeter and fall on top of the ill-placed ball. Probably not.

Everyone from time to time finds themselves in an embarrassing situation. Some more than others. Society places morals and mores on us that we are expected to follow. When we deviate we are subject to criticism, scorn and even exclusion. It is only natural that we would want to avoid such situations. So, we lie. We deny. We cover. We rationalize, claim extenuating circumstances or blame others.

There is a fine line here between right and wrong and each of us must decide when and where to cross it. Embarrassment can come in many degrees. From something as mundane as, “Who broke wind?” “Oh it must have been the dog.” To “Have you been having an affair?” or “Did you lie to the Grand Jury?”

There are even times when the guilt resulting from embarrassment can precipitate irrational acts such as suicide. But those are extreme cases. Suffice it to say that embarrassment is, at best, a temporary and situational issue. It should not define a person. And while some angst is expected, our shoulders should be broad enough that we don’t allow it to label us. It is better to own it and move on.

Personal gain may be the catch-all of all reasons to lie. Whether we are looking to score a big payday that will set us up for life or just take the last cookie in the jar without getting caught, the goal is to succeed at any cost. If that means lying, misdirecting, pointing an accusing finger or any other device other than being totally honest, so be it.

In this I don’t mean to infer that people are inherently perpetual liars. I prefer to believe that most people are basically honest, at least to a point, most of the time. However, I have known people who would steal candy from a child and, as before, blame it on the dog rather than accept responsibility for their actions. Sad, but true.

Most people have, at one time or another, told that little white lie to get out of doing something. Maybe you called in sick to work when you weren’t really sick. You just had something else you wanted or needed to do that day. Perhaps you just couldn’t stand the idea of another dinner date with the in-laws so you made up an excuse to cancel. What’s the harm?

So what if you’re calling in on the busiest day of the month and others have to do both their jobs and yours? Big deal if the in-laws went out and purchased non-refundable theatre tickets to the hottest show in town as a surprise gift for you? As long as you can soothe your conscience and justify your reasons for your prevarication, you should be good to go. Right? Maybe not.

Many lies are used to cover up an indiscretion. The most notable of these, or perhaps the most notorious, is the extramarital affair. Cheating on any level (at cards, at sports, on taxes) is always bad. But cheating on a spouse is just deplorable. Not only are you breaking a vow to be faithful, you are breaking the trust of the most important person in your life.

It is true that marriage can change a person. Relationships grow and people often grow apart. Circumstances can bring friction and discontent to the table. There are far too many things that can happen in a marriage the might precipitate an infidelity and I am not trying to make a case for or against it. That is not my purpose. But these indiscretions are fertile seed for lies and deception.

On the flip side you might find those intrepid individuals who lie to protect or to help someone else. One might feel a certain nobility in taking the blame for something they didn’t do so that the guilty party does not have to face the repercussions of their actions. While it may be noble to throw yourself under the proverbial bus to protect your buddy, your sibling, you child or others it is still a lie that can often backfire and only compile the problem.

I think it’s safe to say that most people like to avoid confrontation. Unfortunately, this does not apply to everyone. When we come in contact with one of those confrontational individuals or circumstances thrust us unwittingly into confrontation, we may find ourselves spouting declarations that we cannot substantiate and know are untrue. Anger can be a cruel mistress that makes people say things in haste they might otherwise have kept to themselves. The wisdom in winning an argument is to let cooler heads prevail and let the facts speak for themselves. If this doesn’t work, simply walk away.

Of course, a big element of confrontation is our old friend anger. We’ve all heard the old axiom, “many a truth is spoken in jest.” Well, I’m here to tell you that many a lie is spoken in anger. Let’s face it. When we get angry we tend to lash out without thinking things through. We want to say hurtful and spiteful things that will diminish our adversary’s position even if their argument is right and just. We’re just so damned mad.

As I said, most people are not naturally confrontational. We often go out of our way to make people like us. We may even go so far as to lie in order to inflate our image so more people will like us. It’s like enhancing your job resume to make it appear more appealing to potential employers.

You want them to like you. So what if you embellish a bit? As long as you get the job, what’s the harm? The harm is that you are masquerading as someone you are not. What happens when you get the job and it is found that you are not qualified to do it?

What happens when someone lies to influence a decision? This harkens back to the old personal gain syndrome. You see it a lot in politics and advertising. Your plumber may exaggerate a simple routine repair to tack on hundreds of dollars onto your bill. Your car dealer might sell you on a number of superfluous extras to inflate the purchase price or undercut your trade-in value to his advantage. They are all trying to influence your decision to their own benefit. Of course, these are only a few examples. No doubt you can think of many more.

It isn’t always what is said that can be construed as a lie. Quite often it is a matter of what goes unsaid. Lies of omission can be the most hurtful of all, not to mention the most difficult to detect. Perfect example:

Two lawyers (prosecution and defense) arguing back and forth, each desperately pleading their case, each presenting facts in evidence but only facts that support their argument. The reason there has to be two advocates is because neither side can be depended upon to present both sides, and each side will do everything possible to punch holes in the stories presented by their opponent. Sorting out the truth and coming to a unanimous decision can often become a daunting task.

Naturally, not all lies involve life and death consequences. Take the good old practical joke for example. I’m not a big fan of practical jokes, but some people literally thrive on them.

Let’s say someone buys you a scratch off lottery ticket with a top prize of $10,000.00. You are skeptical of your chances but accept the gift and proceed to scratch off the squares. Low and behold you find that you have won the top prize. Why not? Somebody has to win. It might as well be you.

Your joy and excitement bubbles over much to the delight of your benefactor until you turn the ticket over to find out how to claim your prize. “Redeemable at your Momma’s house, you big dumbass.” Laughter and guffaws all around from everyone except you, the victim. The practical joke considered to be so funny is based on a preplanned lie.

There are some people who stoop to lies to garner sympathy from others. Poor, poor pitiful me is no excuse for lying. If the truth of your situation is insufficient to earn sympathy without embellishment, you owe it to yourself and everyone else to keep quiet and not make stuff up.

Of course, there are some who just can’t help themselves. They lie out of habit. It becomes an addiction, especially if they don’t get caught in their deceits. Telling falsehoods and getting away with it can become a way of life for some. The problem is, people, in the long run, are not stupid. “Fool me once, shame on me…” you know the old saying. People who habitually lie will eventually be caught and perpetually tagged for it, even if they eventually change their ways.

Then there are people who simply are unable to accept the truth. They may know the truth but continue to deny it because it does not fit into their agenda. By denying the truth when we know the truth, we are simply living a lie.

That’s my list. All of the reasons for lying I can think of. No doubt there are others. You may have your own list, but in all likelihood, any other reason can be linked back to one or more of those listed above.

So, why talk about reasons for lies in a book expounding the virtues of truth> very simple. By debugging the reasons for lying we reveal the seamy underbelly of deceit and potential for evil. Even those lies with virtuous purpose (lying to protect others) can have serious side effects and need to be considered with great discretion.

The bottom line will usually be that truth is simplistic, basic and easy if applied consistently across the board. Lies only tend to complicate a situation, create doubt and confusion and result in a loss of trust.

It’s your choice.                      

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