I used to have a saying I lived by. “If you’re lying to yourself, I won’t brand you a liar to me.” I’m not so sure that was the noble policy I thought it to be. It’s not so harmful when it’s a friend with a New Years resolution saying for the third time this week “one little piece of pie won’t hurt.” These past couple of years have brought greater insight into the little lie. It’s easy to forget how much of the denial exhibited in the Republican Party and The Republican Nation Committee is in keeping with every day human behavior. Yes, our own behavior.
We insulate ourselves from our every day willful illusions. We forget how often when something goes wrong, whether with someone we love or something that serves us, how we make passage for a sleight in cause, or excuses for someone’s behavior. We will accept things small that we know are lies, and move on as though they never happened. Certainly everyone has seen at one time or another an act that leaves someone hurt or disbelieved. If we want something or someone bad enough we will wager solid histories of proven trust, faith and loyalty for something we wish wasn’t true. Look back, possibly not so far, and ask yourself in the privacy and comfort of your own mind.
It’s a painful moment when we do look if we are able, but it gets easier. And even knowing this, we’ll still call ourselves ethical and just once its through. It was just a moment after all. We’re good people after all. It’s not that big of a deal after all. I can’t be absolutely sure, so what does it matter after all. And ‘after all’ in large part, we will remain true to the values we have held most dear, as though a disconnect never occurred. We pick up where we left off unrighteous. Returning to those values upon which our reputations and self-value have most relied. The smaller the number of others hurt in our choices, the easier it is to forget and leave behind. Often times reconciliations come, and our relationships and communities draw back together. Nothing of great recognition changes. Nothing we have to look at every day. There is no one easier to fool than ourselves. And even the truth-teller will likely acquiesce to the option and futility of rejected honor. There is nothing so sad as the only person standing up, to sit back down for the hearers lack of courage. Perhaps the most regrettable harm of all.
We won’t see the damage we’ve done because it will never sit open in front of us. But make no mistake, there is loss. Some one or some thing that is corrupt has been promoted, where our conscience might have changed course for all. A truth or truth teller will be quieted and set aside, and liar or lie emboldened, held up high untarnished. No one really knows but ourselves, growing fainter by never having to look at it.
Over time our collusions will fade from sight and mind. We may never even remember them at all. That little dismissal that only hurt a little bit, only hurt someone else – soothed by easy justification in moments we got to choose what we preferred to believe. Those were easy little sleights to retain what we wanted, now embedded within what we’ll allow and who we become at our center.
So small are our views of small deceptions, that they wont ever stop us from the outward protests of injustice. Those cries for righteousness permitting us to believe of ourselves, to be as we no longer truly are. We won’t ask ourselves what we’ve corrupted or how bad down the line was the ultimate damage, in those little lies that served us. We won’t tire ourselves seeking to know what it did to people or situations once our contraventions were dispatched and out of view. Still, if we are honest with ourselves it won’t be so easy to condemn the big lies when they come. We know we put mortar in the casts that builds them. And for many if not most we’ll never stumble upon these without digging, to remember what or how much we’ve done.
Those small, insignificant choices that helped lies move upward and truth fall down to the ground. Even considering these words we will likely tell ourselves it was not us, walled off from the sins of our own commission. We believe our own lies when we choose to tell them. And we usually never see the harm they have done. Not only have we chosen to forget them, but to never look a direction from which they might call. Still, somewhere inside we know the sad truth that we’ll never be the same. Not unless we face ourselves. Something we’re far less practiced in than comforting. And that is the insidious nature of the small lie. It’s a big lie ever in the making. Constructed of who we were not willing to be when we had the truth in our hands, and a lie on the apple of our eye.
When it comes time to condemn the big lie, we absolutely should. There is no way to permit its destruction. But do so with a commitment to truth in our own lives. Our big lie could just as easily be coming. We’ve given permission to small lies, most likely the entirety of our lives. That’s why we laughed as this one gained traction. We could not imagine anyone permitting such a farce, or openly believing such delusion. This monstrosity was built on a lot of small lies. A lot of people telling themselves repeatedly little things didn’t matter. It’s our nature to believe it will never happen to us. Which is why right now it is happening to them. But ultimately everything that happens, happens to us all. Not in small ways or so far off in the distance. Ultimately what happens to us all will be here to stay for a while. We’d do well to remember that – and that small things after all, aren’t so small. Least of all, the lies we tell ourselves.
One thought on “Condemning Big Lies, Suborning Small Lies and the Act of Distancing Us From Ourselves”
“People of the Lie” by M. Scott Peck – He warned us of this.
And I agree, what happens to one happens to us all. You’d think the COVID-19 virus would’ve made this obvious to everyone.
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