A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
We all lie: it’s built into our psyche. I’m pretty sure that somewhere back in caveman days, somebody looked around and said, “Does this sabretooth pelt make me look fat?” And her mate grunted the equivalent of, “No, darling! It’s perfect.” Thus our species continued populating the Earth. Personally, I think lying is an essential part of civilization. It gets us through social situations, keeps our friends and enemies in line and helps us not look like jerks – most of the time. Plus, in general, lying is no big deal. The rewards are large and the consequences quite small. However, sometimes lies can be dangerous. These are the lies we tell ourselves. Here are just three examples.
1 – Remember, back in school when Brittany, Class President, hooked you into helping with the Annual Charity Drive because “It’ll be fun!” And remember how is wasn’t because, while she and her friends were up at the dance, “collecting” non-perishable food items, you spent the evening down in the school basement, working your ass off, sorting cans of tuna and packages of macaroni. Remember that? So how come you’re phoning everybody in the family (on both sides) and saying, “We’re doing Christmas at our house this year. C’mon over for dinner. It’ll be fun!”
2 — Normally, this lie comes right after some celebrity TV know-it-all has created a beautiful gingerbread sculpture shaped like the British House of Parliament. You watched them fashion this marvel — from finding fresh ginger at the local farmer’s market to carving out the wooden molds on a lathe. They’ve spun sugar to a transparent sheen for the windows and even installed battery-operated lights – all in less than 30 minutes! So, you say to yourself, “That looks easy” and go out a buy a Gingerbread House kit from the grocery store. Two weekends and three Gingerbread House kits later, your own mother won’t speak to you, the kids have filed a restraining order and whatever’s left of the gingerbread mess is sitting in the corner – where you threw it.
3 — Once again, this lie started in school. Your term project was due at the end of the semester, and that was three months away. Three months! That’s a lifetime when you’re a teenager. So, you decided to do a kick-ass/best ever treatise on the Pre-Cambrian Shield – complete with rock samples, charts, hand-drawn illustrations and a working model of a Canadian glacier because, you say to yourself, “I’ve got plenty of time.” And you keep saying that for the next 2 months and 27 days while your project slowly melts away like that glacier you’re never going to build. Finally, you end up with 10 pages (double-spaced) that you borrowed from an encyclopedia (no Wikipedia in those days) a Xeroxed copy of an aerial photograph of Ontario and couple of stones from your garden . . . .
Well, folks! Today is the 4th of December, and Christmas is exactly three weeks away. Just sayin’!