By Larry Walker
January 28, 2013
I hate and abhor lying . . .
The Holy Bible
Recently, I was channel surfing when I saw an ad for a television program on CBS to be called The Truth About Lying. I found this to be pretty interesting, but the more I thought about it, I concluded that a more interesting program might be Lying About The Truth. If I understand the word correctly, that’s what lying is, misrepresenting the truth. Or, as The American Heritage Dictionary simply defines lying as being, Untruthful.
I had a great friend who used to say, “I never tell a lie unless it’s absolutely necessary.” We’d have a hearty laugh at his clever humor, but that’s probably the way most people used to be. They abhorred lying, “unless it was absolutely necessary.” There might have been a very few folks who never lied (almost impossible), and a few who were constant liars (not many), but most people didn’t make it a habit to be untruthful, unless it was “absolutely necessary.”
Let’s look at a few who had great reputations for being almost totally honest. The first that comes to mind, of course, is George Washington, a politician, no less. Of course, Washington was a public figure when communications were limited, and when a General or President could pretty well control his image. It’s hard to believe that a man dealing with the problems that Washington encountered was totally honest. Nonetheless, Washington has an impeccable reputation for integrity, and that’s what we want from the man who’s “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”
Then, there is Honest Abe Lincoln – a man who walked miles to return a penny (his image now adorns the coin) that he had shorted a man in making change. Have you seen Steven Spielberg’s great movie, Lincoln? Do you still think Lincoln always told the truth? And, should he always have been totally honest? Even if it had caused the failure of the Emancipation Proclamation or the loss by the North in the Civil War?
Then, there is Harry Truman. Truman was very plain-spoken and blunt. Largely, I think he was honest, but he cursed so much (many of my friends would say “cussed”), that he never had the reputation for honesty that his predecessors George and Abe enjoyed.
Now let’s look at the other side – some with reputations, duly earned, for lying. This could be a very long list. Let’s limit to a few superstar liars. What about John Edwards? Better (or worse) is Bernie Madoff. Then there is Barry Bonds and the current lying champion, Lance Armstrong. O.J. Casey Anthony. Tiger Woods. And, we’ve had Presidents who got caught pretty big, shall we say, in misrepresentations: Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton come to mind. Truth to tell, probably all of our Presidents from Washington to Obama stretched the truth from time to time. You remember the movie about Vietnam called The Killing Fields? Well, we now have The Lying Fields and it’s the internet. I believe that a very high percentage of what is on the internet is untrue or only partially true. Unfortunately, no one seems to be too concerned about it – unless, of course, it’s a lie about them and they find out it’s being distributed (or can be) across the known world.
Back to Truman. For some reason, writing about President Truman reminded me of the time when, during the trial of a case and after my successfully cross examining the opposite party, I said to him, “The fact is, you just lied, didn’t you?”, only to be admonished by the Judge: “Mr. Walker, we don’t use the word ‘lied’ in my court.” I apologized and re-worded with, “The fact is, you told an untruth, didn’t you?” This was acceptable to His Honor.
I guess all of us tell an untruth occasionally. But, I’m working on mine, and I vow to never tell an untruth in the future, unless, of course, it’s absolutely necessary.
And, by the way, maybe a better name for this article would have been, The Truth About Lying.
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