1 a archaic : fidelity, constancy
b : sincerity in action, character, and utterance
a (1) : the state of being the case : fact (2) : the body of real things, events, and facts : actuality (3) often capitalized : a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality
b : a judgment, proposition, or idea that is true or accepted as true <truths of thermodynamics>
c : the body of true statements and propositions
a : the property (as of a statement) of being in accord with fact or reality
b chiefly British : true 2
c : fidelity to an original or to a standard
Fortunately, I couldn’t walk away from such a thought provoking matter without fully considering the possibility that there may be some truth to it. Slowly, I began to see that we all, at some point, deny the truth in favor of a lie that feels better.
When her best friend spoke the words, “Your husband has been coming on to me,” Janet’s jaw nearly hit the floor. She blamed her friend for tempting him and maybe even making the whole thing up. For Janet, her husband’s denial sounded far better than the truth of his betrayal.
His story was in alignment with what she wanted to believe. So, despite her gut instinct and the words of her trusted friend, she defended the lie and the liar. As for the truth—Janet chose denial over authenticity and ended up losing a friendship.
Now what about our politicians? We ridicule them for lying, but could they get elected by telling the truth? I doubt it. Let’s say a campaign statement consisted of, “Everything is so screwed up that it will be impossible to make noticeable changes during my term, but this is a great career move for me. Please elect me and I’ll do whatever I can just like any of the other candidates will do.” Are you anxious to vote for this person? I think not!
Whether or not we admit it, we want to hear optimistic, grandiose, outrageously positive claims about what a politician will do for us, even if they are truly powerless to make it happen. Their lies give us hope and motivate us to cast the vote. So, they tell us what we want to hear. They help us deny the truth and we elect the person who is most convincing…not the person who is most truthful.
When asked, “Do I look fat in these pants,” do you answer truthfully if the truth isn’t nice? Or do you take a second to pause, considering if you’d rather be hated for your honesty or appreciated for a well-intentioned lie? Tough choice! Does the person asking the question really want the truth?
Think about this… if we have a few too many carbs and our pants feel 10 times tighter than they did last week, we’re aware of it. So, why get a second opinion? You know why… in hopes that somebody will feel too bad to tell the truth. Oh how we love having others to encourage our denial.
And what about shopping and advertising. People flock to stores to buy name brand food, drugs, clothing, and other items that are no better than the generic or off brand. But they’re often responding to commercials that say this product is the best, the healthiest, the tastiest, or the most effective.
Our responses to misleading claims of superiority equal profit for those doing the misleading. So, can we truly be mad at them for exaggerating the truth? Are they wrong for overstating the facts? After all, they wouldn’t lie if it didn’t generate a positive, worthwhile response from us. And we all know that those positive responses keep coming, long after we know that the claims are not entirely true.
If a company advertised, “This product is the same as that cheaper one, but we want you to buy our more expensive version because of the name,” would you buy it? Absolutely not!
Most of us are blissfully unaware of how much we resist the truth. We say that we want honesty, yet our reactions to the truth often leave people wishing they’d told a lie. And our reactions to lies often lead people to continue denying the truth.
Now, back to the original question: “Why do we sometimes love those that lie to us and hate those that tell us the truth?” I believe the underlying reason for denial is fear. When we don’t know the degree of our own inner strength, we may think we need the peace of mind that comes from the person who tells us what we want to hear (even if it’s not true). In many cases, we simply don’t trust in our ability to handle the truth.
Rather than accept the truth and work toward creating a more desirable reality, many people choose denial. But denial is just a band-aid. Instead of addressing undesirable truths, it covers them up like festering wounds as they grow into bigger, undeniable issues.
So, what do we really want? Do we primarily want to hear the truth or do we want to hear what makes us feel good? Is the claim that we value, desire and encourage honesty just another lie? Is it just more denial? Do we have respect for the integrity of those who tell us the unblemished truth? Or do we honor lies and liars that make it easier to live in denial of the truth?