Monday, April 25, 2005

Lt. Dan Kaffee: I want the truth!
Col. Nathan Jessep: You can't handle the truth!
-A Few Good Men (1992)

It occurred to me one day that we spend the better portion of our lives being lied to. It happens from the beginning from the day one, where little boys and girls are taught that good behaviour will be rewarded. Give them a few years, and the teachers and parents will be telling them, "It's what's inside that counts" and "It doesn't matter if you win or lose, it's how you play the game."

This follows them into their teenage years, where they are told that hard work and perserverence pays off in the long run. If they're part of the North American school system, they'll likely be told about the dangers of pre-marital sex and recreational drug use, especially with marijuana.

And then they'll go into their adult years. You'll have politicians promising bigger and brighter things if they're elected into office, television ads promoting the American dream, and people that you work with telling you that a task will be accomplished with a specific time frame.

All of these things work in theory, but not in practice. In the long run, people will generally gravitate towards those who are good of heart and kind in spirit. But more often than not, these people get swallowed whole by people with less than honourable intentions. Professional athletes have bad attitudes towards fans and the media, yet are awarded millions of dollars in promotions and contracts. People who are good looking generally make more money than more plain looking people. Products designed to make our lives better and brighter end up just making us fat and poor. Politicians send troops to foreign countries to war over false pretenses.

Lies and truths will eventually be uncovered, but by the time it happens, it's usually too late and the damage is permanent. But on the other hand, if everybody (and I mean EVERYBODY) told the cold, hard, and honest truth, the world would would not necessarily be a better place. As it is, it seems that it is in our nature to deceive each other and people would prefer to live in a lie than the cold hard truth.

If children were told the truth about everything, it'd be crushing. For children to have nothing to believe in would likely do serious harm to their development. What motivation would there to be a good, kind hearted person if they knew it wouldn't get them anywhere? Why would they want to even leave the house if they weren't pleasing to the eye, knowing that everybody would be judging them without even taking the time to know them?

If there was truth in advertising, the economy would shut down. We don't need the fanciest anti-bacterial soap, the biggest SUVs, the perfect body, or the latest fashion. But, the 500-channel universe tells us otherwise. People wouldn't be buying the latest and greatest, financial growth for corporations would shut down, and a lot of people would be unemployed.

If the government told the truth all the time, there'd be anarchy. The truth is tanamount to political suicide. History has proven this. Former US president Jimmy Carter's administration was in the middle of an oil crisis. He promoted conservation, wore a sweater on live television to set a good example among the American public and even had solar panels installed in the White House. Ronald Reagan promoted a Pollyana attitude of hope and optimism, and then would later go onto win the American presidency and then dismantle everything that Jimmy Carter had set in motion. Now we find ourselves in a bigger energy crunch than before. We had about 20-30 years to do something about it, but instead, we just bought bigger houses, bigger SUVs, and ended up with bigger waistlines.

If people told the truth in relationships...well, it's hard to say. There'd be a lot more trust, for starters. But would people take risks? Would people even want to be with each other if they knew the truth about each other? But, I can tell you one thing...women won't be asking men the ever dreaded, "Honey, do I look fat to you?" Plus, it would save the guys a lot of time because women won't be telling them, "I'm not really looking for a boyfriend right now."

But as much as our lives are built around lies, truth is necessary...even though it can only be administered in extremely small doses. But, it does keep the world in some level of balance, even though it is constantly teetering on the head of a pin.

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