Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Truth About Lies

Part A: The Truth.

I was going to write an article on what the truth is, but then I remembered a certain Bible story which goes something like this:

A couple of millennia ago, God did something not many right-thinking dads would do. He instructed his own son to depart the ritzy comforts of heaven, notwithstanding the fact that the poor dude had done absolutely nothing wrong, and live on earth for thirty-three years.

And that was not all. As if the prospect living among human beings were not disturbing enough, the unfortunate fellow was also directed to hold no permanent residence, provide free medical services on demand, and occasionally feed thousands of hangers-on while broke.

Oh. And he was also expected to do all this while telling a race which has spent eternity thinking they are God’s chosen ones that his dad really didn’t like them that much; that basically, they were pretty much pissing him off big time.

Everybody of course knows how the last part turned out. Three years into explaining to the multitudes that they were pissing his dad off and that pissing his dad off wasn’t a great idea, he found himself  nailed to a rickety pole with thorns in his hair and a twelve-inch dagger plunged into his side.

The lessons that can gathered from this story are million-fold, but one in particular stands out for me: Very few people know or like being told what the truth is, and trying to explain it to them can get you killed.

So mindful of this and desirous to spend as many days on earth as the economy, Al Shabaab and Kenya’s roads will let me, I decided I will not write about the truth.

Instead, I decided I will tell people what a lie is.

Part B: The Lies

Plainly speaking, a lie is the opposite of the truth. It is an inaccuracy maliciously expressed with the express intention of derailing, disproving or otherwise disenfranchising a previously accepted logical, sound and empirically proven fact; for example by using so many unnecessary words in a definition that the reader becomes blinded to the fact that you are not making any sense.

There are three broad categories of lies, and these are:-

1.       White Lies

Imagine yourself at five years old. You are perched precariously on a wobbly stool, your tiny hand stretched in the general direction of the kitchen cabinet where your mother keeps the sugar dish under permanent lock and key but somehow forgot to do so today.

Just as your grubby paw coils around this equivalent of the Arthurian legend Holy Grail, the kitchen door swings open and your mother walks in, looking like someone who has just spent the last hour eating unripe lemons. “What are you doing?” She roars, and it is not a rhetorical question.

The next approximately five words to come out of your mouth= White Lie.

2.      Blatant lies

You have just arrived from the United States of America, where you and your brother Leo have lived for the past decade or so, and are met at the airport by the customary throng of relatives. However, something seems odd…all the relatives have got tears in their eyes. Tears of sadness.

“What happened to Leo?” One relative asks.

“He was a famous man over there.” You answer. “He was a long-term member of a very prominent American government institution, and he even briefly held its chair. His death came as a great shock.”

This gives comfort to your kin, who turn away ignorant of the fact that indeed, Leo had been famous: A famous criminal. They are unaware that the prominent American institution he boasted membership of was actually a federal prison, and that his death did literally come as a shock-on the electric chair.

3.      Statistics.

According to recent data released by the Statistics Association of Kenya, exactly 100% of statistics cited by people writing articles about lies are actually made up on the spot. Evidence of this phenomenon is usually clearer when such articles quote authorities on statistics that don’t even exist.

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