Watching The Matrix again for the first time in a long time I not only relive some emo-grunge fashion trends and vintage cellphones from young adolescence (and what unmistakable looks like Keanu Reeves in lipstick), I also thought I’d write something on a topic dear to me: The relationship between honesty and lies, truth and deception. Classically expressed, there appears to exist two kinds of people: red pill people and blue pill people. The people who want to know and those who rather live in ignorance.
A long time ago in a forgotten context I asked a friend if she wanted to know if her husband were to cheat on her (not that he was, it was a hypothetical question). To my great surprise she said she rather not know. She reasoned that what she did not know did not hurt her. I was completely chocked, “like seriously?”. It is true that my friend and myself are morally quite different (me being perhaps a bit overbearingly black-and-white), but to me there is only one option: the red pill. Regardless of situation. Regardless of truth. I reason that I would rather stare down a gun barrel before taking a bullet between the eyes, than foolishly believe the better of people who stab me in the back. I figure, if you want to mess with me, you do it to my face. No secrets, no lies. Kill me if you will, but that little piece of dignity to stare you in the eyes as you pull the trigger, at least, I feel owed. Of course, having this dignity is not our own choice to make. Humiliatingly enough it is our perpetrators who decide the level of dignity we get.
It can no longer be any secret that I have little tolerance for liars. I think it belongs to the worst of human follies. Yet I have wholeheartedly believed in people I know to be liars. Foolishly believing the better of people despite both themselves and myself. The problem is that when people lie to you, your options to make a fair judgment of them and the situation is stolen from you. You may believe that a liar tells nothing but lies, but that approach benefits no one. When lies are told and truths-deserved-to-be-known are kept silent there are only losers.
Making things complicated: some of the worst lies are not expressed, nor are they truths-deserved-told, they are lies behaved. A little moment of manipulation to achieve a particular response, to plant a particular belief. What happens is that a perpetrator (and also the victim) shifts the blame to the victim. It is now no longer a question of ‘lying’ so much as ‘interpreting’. This is too common and it breaks my heart like few other things: The doubt and guilt innocent people can be made to feel by the people who lie to them, people often altering ‘self-history’ to in their own and other’s eyes appear free of guilt.
I am not consistently honest. I too am known to have told lies. But I refuse to stop trying, applying instead an approach of brutal honesty rather than soothing lies.
For a grand finally a mildly suitable quote with some potential for food for thought, perhaps? A quote:
Neo: What are you trying to tell me? That I can dodge bullets?
Morpheus: No, Neo. I’m trying to tell you that when you’re ready, you won’t have to.