Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Is Truth a Luxury too Expensive? Or Are Lies a Luxury too Expensive?

Here, when it rains, it pours.

A teenage girl, tall for her age with an athletic build walked up in a soccer uniform and pink Converse. She approached the teenage boy, tall for his age and skinny sitting in the bleachers. “Why weren’t you at the park last night?” she asked. “Because I was being punished and couldn’t leave” he replied. She simply said “Oh, ok” and walked back down to the field.

Then the nosy American sitting next to him butted in to what could have been a normal teenaged exchange. “What were you being punished for?” she asked.
“I wasn’t supposed to leave the house and I did”
“Who punished you?”
“Ronald” but then he continued seeing the look of incredulity on her face “no, just kidding, I didn’t get punished last night.”


“So you just lied to her?”
“I don’t like lies” She continued (yes, this was the most profound statement she could muster in Spanish).

“No, it’s a joke, a joke, I did get punished last night, didn’t I Juan (another teenager sitting with them)?”
“Yeah” Juan replied in his attempt to not sell out his friend, but not get too involved either.
“How…?” the American started again.

“Ok, it’s a joke, I didn’t get punished last night” he reversed for the second time quickly.
“So you lied to her, you lied to me and Juan lied to me” as she attempted to sum things up.
“Yes, I just didn’t want to go to the park” he replied quietly.

She was incensed. Not only because the boys around her who she had come to depend on as friends had lied so easily, without thought and about something with trivial consequences, but also because it was the beginning stages of a pattern she had seen between men and women of all ages in the country.

Not sure who or what she could really trust, she sat in silence for the first half of the game and walked home alone at halftime.

When the boys returned from the game, one of them sought her out to ask if she was mad. She replied that she was, but she knew despite his show of intuition, he wouldn’t truly understand why.

That night she found herself sitting on the edge of a low garden wall with yet another teenage boy Estevan, who by his good fortune had just gotten back from Managua and so was not a suspect in the stealing of jewelry and money from one of the staff houses. All the boys she had gone to the soccer game with were now immediately suspects and had been called to sit outside while their rooms were searched.

They were used to being the first ones suspected. The staff person was used to suspecting them. Their things were pulled out of their dressers, their bedding taken off their mattresses.

They all waited, they all listened. They all knew what happened last time. They all knew that while tempting, past performance was not a guarantee of future results.

Estevan whispered to the American that stealing was wrong as though some might disagree. The American whispered back that lying was bad, knowing that many did disagree.

“There are bad lies and there are good lies” he replied.
“Explain to me what good lies are.”
“I don’t know how to explain, but I know when I see them.”

And she knew it was true. For him, lying was a method of survival. It became something acceptable. Who wouldn’t lie if it was in the interest of your future?

But eventually it had also becomes doublethink, because if lying was sometimes okay, then lying when it doesn’t hurt anyone must be okay too, although lying in general is still wrong. What space is left for ‘wrong’ lying is not considered.

So it’s understandable, sure, why lies are told in desperate situations. And there are plenty of people who feel that there are other lies that are not wrong because they are of such little importance.

Do you agree?

And if everyone in your country believed this too, but clearly gets to decide for themselves where the line of ‘desperate’ and ‘little importance’ are, how does your country run?


kneek said...

Profound. You really are getting at the heart of the social ills plaguing so much of our society, Nicaragua, and United States

Elizabeth Mc. said...

Good for you for standing up for what's right, even if it's not popular. It was probably refreshing for them to be exposed to someone who does not think lying is okay...refreshing because of the innocense of it. And that innocense is good; keep it up Nicole :o)

Nic said...

Thanks for the support. I'm still regularly surprised by what I'm learning, it's just becoming the things that are more and more subtle.