“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” – Mark Twain
It happened once upon a time that a certain Greek ship bound for Athens was wrecked off the coast close to Piraeus, the port of Athens. Had it not been for the dolphins, who at that time were very friendly toward mankind and especially toward Athenians, all would have perished. But the dolphins took the shipwrecked people on their backs and swam with them to shore.
Now it was the custom among the Greeks to take their pet monkeys and dogs with them whenever they went on a voyage. So, when one of the dolphins saw a monkey struggling in the water, he thought it was a man, and made the monkey climb up on his back. Then off he swam with him toward the shore.
The monkey sat up, grave and dignified, on the dolphin’s back. “You are a citizen of illustrious Athens, are you not?” asked the dolphin politely.
“Yes,” answered the monkey, proudly. “My family is one of the noblest in the city.”
“Indeed,” said the dolphin. “Then, of course you often visit Piraeus.”
“Yes, yes,” replied the monkey, thinking it to be the name of a man. “Indeed, I do. I am with him constantly. Piraeus is my very best friend.”
This answer took the dolphin by surprise. Turning his head, he now saw what it was he was carrying. Without much ado, the dolphin dived and the monkey was drowned.
The lesson from this Aesop’s fable: “He who once begin to tell lies is obliged to tell others to make them appear true, and sooner or later, they will get him into trouble.”
“What is a lie?” asked George Gordon Noel Byron. “It is but the truth in masquerade.” To which Mark Twain adds, “It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.”
“There is beauty in truth, even if it’s painful,” said Jose N. Harris. “Those who lie, twist life so that it looks tasty to the lazy, brilliant to the ignorant, and powerful to the weak. But lies only strengthen our defects. They don’t teach anything, help anything, fix anything or cure anything. Nor do they develop one’s character, one’s mind, one’s heart or one’s soul.”
Paula Philips tells a story of a group of young school teachers who were taking a routine efficiency test. When they came to Part Three, they found a long list of book titles and authors. The directions said: “Check off the books you have read.”
When the examiners later checked the papers, they found that one third of the teachers had checked almost every book on the list. Some checked every one.
This had nothing to do with proving that the teachers were well-read. It only proved that many of them were liars, because 25 of the 50 books listed did not even exist. They had been invented by the examiners as a means of checking both the truthfulness and efficiency of the teachers.
“There are few reasons for telling the truth,” wrote Carlos Ruiz Zafon in The Shadow of the Wind, “but for lying the number is infinite.” Here’s one from Oscar-winning actor Al Pacino: “I always tell the truth. Even when I lie.”
Lillian Carter, the mother of American President Jimmy Carter, had set up an interview with an aggressive woman reporter who made it clear with her very first question that she intended to take the measure of this sharp-tongue little woman and her upstart son.
“Your son,” the reporter began, “has been traveling the United States, telling people not to vote for him if he ever lies to them. Can you, knowing a son as only a mother can, honestly say he’s never told a lie?”
“Well, perhaps a little white lie now and then,” Mrs. Carter countered. Snapped back the reporter, “And what is the difference between a white lie and any other kind? Define white lie for me.”
Mrs. Carter said sweetly, “I’m not sure I can define it, but I can give you an example. Do you remember that when you came in the door a few minutes ago, I told you how good you looked and how glad I was to see you?”
“Lies are neither bad nor good,” said Max Brooks in World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. “Like a fire, they can keep you warm or burn you to death, depending on how they’re used.”
There’s no one this world who has never lied at one time or another. “Because everybody lies,” declared Nicholas Sparks in Safe Heaven. “It’s part of living in society. Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s necessary. The last thing anyone wants is to live in a society where total honesty prevails. Can you imagine the conversation? You’re short and fat, one person might say, and the other might answer, I know. But you smell bad. It just wouldn’t work.
“So, people lie by omission all the time,” Sparks continued. “People will tell you most of the story…. And I’ve learned that the part they neglect to tell you is often the most important part. People hide the truth because they’re afraid.”
Even those who are supposed to be provider of truth lie! Read this story by Bruno Hagspiel: A preacher saw a group of little boys sitting in a circle with a dog in the middle. He asked them what they were doing with the dog. One little fellow said, “We aren’t doing anything to the dog; we’re just telling lies, and the one that tells the biggest lie gets the dog.”
The preacher told them that he was much shocked, that when he was a little boy, he would never have even thought of telling a lie.
Hearing those words, the little boy said, “Give him the dog, fellas.” – ###