One of my favorite movie scenes is from the movie Liar, Liar which, according to Wikipedia, tells the story of a lawyer who built his entire career on lying, but finds himself cursed to speak only the truth for a single day, during which he struggles to maintain his career and to reconcile with his former wife and son who he alienated with his pathological lying.
Police officer: You know why I pulled you over?
Fletcher Reede: Depends on how long you were following me!
Police officer: Why don’t we take it from the top?
Fletcher Reede: Here goes. I sped, I followed too closely, I ran a stop sign, I almost hit a Chevy, I sped some more, I failed to yield, I changed lanes without signaling while speeding.
Police officer: Is that all?
Fletcher Reede: No. I have unpaid parking tickets.
Obviously, this guy is a pathological liar. You know who else lies on a regular basis? Pretty much every human on the planet. One study in particular showed that the average person lies 100 times a day. The study went further and noted that we lie in 25 percent of all our social interactions. (Note, politicians and news pundits have been excluded from this survey so as not to skew the numbers. Not really, but they probably should be.)
Think I’m fibbing? For the next 24 hours, pay attention to everything you say. How much of what you say isn’t totally factual? How often do you fudge the truth?
Lies run the gamut from white lies to exaggeration (or embellishment as we writers like to say), plagiarism, lies of deception, lies of fabrication, broken promises and bold-faced lies. We lie to keep ourselves from getting into trouble (children are pros at this), we lie so as not to hurt other people’s feelings, we commit sins of omission (something to think about as you work on your taxes, especially for those folks getting paid “under the table”), we don’t admit things when we should (what percentage of people plead “not guilty” in court when they most certainly know they are guilty?), we lie to save face. The list is endless.
We’re not just lying to other people; we’re lying to ourselves on a regular basis as well. “I can get one more task done before I leave the house and still be at my appointment on time.” Or, “I’m just going to eat one Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg.” (Like Lay’s potato chips, you can’t eat just one.)
Lent’s just around the corner (Ash Wednesday falls on March 2 this year.) How about giving up lying for Lent? Think through every word you say before it leaves your mouth. Sound easy? You’d be surprised. If it turns out to be a struggle, the good news is that Lent is the ideal time to go to Confession. You can wipe the slate clean and do your best to go forward and tell the truth and nothing but the truth. So help you God.