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Black Lies Matter

Black lies matter. So do white lies. In fact, all lies matter because truth matters.

I’ve always wondered about the expression, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.” Flaming pants aren’t easily hidden and can quickly be verified, making lie-detection effortless. Unfortunately, the lies that politicians, the press and social media push are much more cunning. Their lies shrewdly cover up falsehoods that mask deceitfulness in order to hide misrepresentations that conceal double-dealing so as to camouflage the suppression that’s designed to hide fabrications through censoring in order to crush the truth. Now, that’s a mouthful that could generate enough spittle to put out ordinary flaming trousers, but not the inflammable secret-combination-lies we’re quickly getting used to.

My mother used to say that sometimes it’s alright to lie. Okay those aren’t her exact words but she did say you should always be kind, which is almost the same thing. If you’re talking to someone face-to-face and they ask you a potentially damning, overloaded question, it’s okay to tell a little white lie, right?

Do these pants make my butt look fat? Did you like the Christmas gift I gave you? Why didn’t you come to my Tupperware party?

What color is a white lie, anyway? I think that question could best be answered by establishing what it isn’t—dark er colorful. White lies may not always be pure as the driven snow but unlike yellow snow, they do have their place. Do I like your haircut? “Um… sure.” Did I enjoy those chopped-liver cookies you made me? “Yumm.” Am I boring you to death? “Of course not.”

Black lies are evil no matter how small they are. They elevate the liar at someone else’s expense. They always cause injury and uncertainty. They are meant to mislead and control others. They are blatant, divisive and ruinous.

Grey lies are positively indecisive. They flirt between black and white and usually settle somewhere in the middle, where they are compromised on both ends. Grey liars are trusted even less than more competent black liars.

Yellow lies are timid displays of cowardice and are rarely credible. Liars of the yellow variety are easily seen through—like a hazy yellow flame.

Purple lies are a royal mistake.

Blue lies are depressing.

Colorful lies are elaborate and flamboyant.

There’s no such thing as a clear lie, because transparency is truth. I’ve always liked people who say it like it is, honestly and openly. It’s so much easier to listen to someone who is direct and to the point rather than someone who drones on and on, 'round and 'round a topic with elusive subtlety. If I want fluff I’ll buy cotton candy.

On the other hand, honesty can be overrated. I dashed into the post office one day and saw someone I knew. “How are ya?” I asked. Her answer was a long, miserable narrative of her exhaustive suffering. A short, sweet “fine” would have been an awesome response, even if it were a lie.

So there you have it. Lies can be on a scale of 1-10, from innocuous to decimating. But keep in mind that all lies lead to distrust, and to the truly honest person, ALL lies matter.