Are more than white lies pervading among Americans?
By Gene Kemmeter
Do Americans hold a special place in their hearts for liars? The love of the underdog seems to inspire them, and they place great credence in the underdog’s comments, even though they may be lies.
Yet the nation’s first President, George Washington, is considered “the man who would not tell a lie.” But his successors have failed to live up to his model and his legacy. Sure, there’s “Honest Abe” Lincoln and a handful of others who have maintained an ethic of honesty, but many others have a lifetime without integrity.
American voters seem duped into believing candidates’ lies, despite what others repeatedly tell them and provide evidence showing why those comments are erroneous. So many politicians today seem to hold the standard of telling the truth in contempt, a situation that has spurred fact-checking in the news media. Many statements are labeled as mostly false, false or outright lies, yet Americans seem to accept those prevarications as truth.
“He speaks with a forked tongue” is a traditional phrase long used by many Native American tribes to describe a person who lies and is no longer considered worthy of trust. Americans around the time of the Revolution also adopted the phrase to convince tribal leaders that they spoke with a “straight” tongue, unlike some officials of other countries.
How quickly have Americans forgotten the oft-repeated phrase “I am not a crook” that was used by the only U.S. president who resigned from office because of questions about unpaid income taxes, a possible kickback from the milk lobby and the Watergate investigation? At the time they were uttered in 1974, most Americans actually believed the proclamation of innocence.
There are many types of liars.
A white liar is someone who justifies their untruthfulness as harmless, or even beneficial, in the long run, telling only part of the truth to not be suspected of lying at all. White lies may to used to shield someone from something they believe is a hurtful or damaging truth.
An occasional liar is someone who seldom tells a lie. When they do, they are remorseful for what they did and are quick to seek forgiveness from the individual that they lied to. Occasional liars are often respected for their attempts at being truthful and humble enough to admit their error.
A compulsive liar is someone who continually lies from sheer habit, their normal manner of responding to questions from others. They will always bend the truth because telling the truth doesn’t feel right. They are uncomfortable whenever they tell the truth.
A sociopathic liar is a goal-oriented person who lies continuously in an attempt to get their own way, without showing care or concern for others. They use their exceptional social skills in a self-centered and manipulative manner.
In this technological and hurried world where people get their information in snippets, it is important to look at issues from more than one side or one source because we know information can be spun to fit one’s view. And lies need to be squashed.