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HOW LIE DISGUISES ITSELF AS TRUTH: on the trail of A. Viger’s story

HOW LIE DISGUISES ITSELF AS TRUTH: on the trail of A. Viger's story
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Becoming yourself requires a pilgrimage to honesty, even if the path seems long and winding.

One research study found: about 70% of people admitted to telling untruths from time to time. However, when asked about specific situations of deception, they tend to put themselves in the best light. What are the consequences of this for the individual? Where does it ultimately lead to?

In Alexander Wiger’s short story «A Taste of Truth» (collection «Shadow Play»), the protagonist is in a state of internal conflict between wanting to be polite and telling the truth. The story raises questions about honesty and social expectations.

 

It was unpalatable and boring atdinner. The unfamiliar company was talking about something of their own, spreading work after hours that one wanted to take one’s mind off of.

When the hostess asked about how I liked one of the dishes, I was somehow triggered, even though I politely complimented the food.

It suddenly seemed maximally stupid to me to ask about things that you surely won’t get a negative answer for, especially from a man. When you’re visiting, you can say either, «It’s delicious» or «It’s even tastier», for variety, you can add, «And we bake it in the oven instead of the grill; that’s delicious too». Long hours of cooking do call for a guaranteed compliment.

But I couldn’t say I didn’t like it, not only to a woman I didn’t know well but also to the girl I was thinking of marrying. She didn’t cook properly either, and at first, I didn’t want to scare her off, but then I missed the point. She seemed to be trying, and I was helping her, but it was not going at all. Sometimes, you hide it because it’s an accidental meeting, and sometimes, you hide it because you have to live with this person.

During a smoke break, I managed to be alone, and it allowed me to breathe fully. I could not pretend that it was delicious and interesting. It was possible to get really pissed off, complain to yourself about everyone around you, reproach yourself for weakness, and obtain a masochistic pleasure from such a set of small emotions.

I was told as a child that it was not good to lie, good boys tell the truth. I once gleefully told my grandmother that her robe was awful, hoping that I would be praised for speaking the truth, that everyone could see and wanted me to tell and make the world a better place. I was, of course, scolded and forced to apologize — it’s not friendly or polite.

This is how we are taught to deceive by encouraging and rewarding lies and punishing opinions. No one teaches you to lie directly, but everyone knows that if you mess up, it’s easier to cover up and get away with it. How many times have I lied since then and even during this day?

If we tell the truth, we hurt someone, we get punished, and we want to tell the truth, so we try to find the good in the bad and convince ourselves that we really think so. For example, you have an authoritarian boss, and you hate him all the time, but you don’t want to tell him all this on emotions, so you change your way of thinking; you try to justify him not in order to understand, but to avoid punishment. So you’re lying to yourself, but to some extent, you’re saying what you think because you’ve made yourself think that way.

Many sitcoms show that when people agree to tell each other only the truth, their relationships fall apart. Perhaps people are not ready for total truth, and a pinch of lies helps them endure existence. Only constant lying destroys both people and relationships from within.

People, especially as children, go where they are encouraged and endorsed, and if they approve of lies, they go to the lies, not because they love it, but because they need the approval. If I hadn’t seen so many examples of punishment for telling the truth, I would feel much better. Right now, however, I am entangled in my lies and don’t know how to get out.

I wish one of the hostess’s friends would gently tell her in private what she cooked wrong so that she would have an incentive to be better. As for the bride, that’s where I’m going to have to muster up all my love of the truth and be honest beyond words. But I’ve been putting off that moment to the last. She can’t cook, even though she studied to be a chef.

 

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A PINCH OF LIE

 

Are you sure you’re not lying? Or are there times when you allow yourself a pinch of a lie every now and then?

Lying can hide behind exaggerations, misrepresenting facts, downplaying events, withholding specific details, avoiding uncomfortable questions, or creating excuses. It may be done intentionally or unknowingly, but either way, the truth is distorted.

Lying disguises itself perfectly as truth but leads to a fractured personality and loss of integrity.

Even «lying for the greater good», when, for example, a person hides the truth about his health in order not to worry his loved ones, despite the good motives, has negative consequences. «Lying for the greater good» is a human invention. It is a product of human thinking and cultural norms that change depending on context and circumstances.

And it goes against divine texts.

Different religions agree on the importance of honesty and truthfulness.

Christianity says, «Every liar is wickedness»; Judaism says, «Do not bear false witness»; Islam says, «Avoid lying, because lying leads to depravity»; Buddhists talk about the «right word»; and Hindus link honesty to karma, where our actions determine our well-being.

Mirra Alfassa, a spiritual associate of Sri Aurobindo and co-founder of the Integral Yoga teachings, asserted, «Always tell the truth — that is the highest degree of nobility. Never tell a lie — this is the absolute condition of safety on the path. Every lie uttered is a step towards your own disintegration. If you don’t want to tell the truth, stay silent».

In making the pilgrimage to honesty, we find ourselves.

 

POSTSCRIPTUM

 

And to the hostess from the story, you can give feedback, but do it with care for her feelings. You might say something like, «I think it would be fun to try new recipes together. Maybe we can cook something together next time».

 


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