Imagine if everything from the lips (or pen) of a person was true

Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE/By Maramis

Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune

We may live in a world of information-sharing, but we also live in a world of creating the kind of information we wish to share.
Yes… to be blunt, many are not above lying, deceiving, or inventing stories, either for their own benefit or to cast aspersions upon
others. No doubt we have seen the results of such “information-sharing” a lot during our lives, starting when we were children when a sibling blatantly told his parents the false story about how the lamp got broken, or a schoolyard tattletale/bully told the principal that you were the one who started the fight, leading up to those creatively-enhanced resumes that your friends were sending out to increase their chances of getting hired, to the stories they would tell about themselves to impress those they wanted to date, marry, or use for their professional or personal advantage, all the way up to those glowing mini resumes that candidates have printed up about themselves on those large postcards that they send out during their political campaigns, and to the speeches that politicians, businessmen, medical professionals or others make to enhance how they are perceived.
If everything those candidates say on their postcards or in their speeches is true, then how is it that they contradict the message of
the others? Can they all be true if they conflict with each other?
When we are little, we’re usually taught to tell the truth. Our teachers in school also insist on honesty, and if we’re found to be lying we can be sent to the principal’s office, which starts us on the road to having a reputation of not being believable. To understand why
it’s really important to be believed, we’re often told the story of the boy who cried wolf. For those who missed that story when they were little, here it is in a nutshell: A shepherd boy often got bored and repeatedly played tricks on the villagers by calling out “wolf, wolf!” Naturally, the villagers dropped everything and ran up the hill to help save their flock. The boy would laugh at their anger at being fooled. Then, when a wolf actually did appear and the boy really called for help, the villagers believed that it was just another false alarm and didn’t bother going to the rescue. The sheep were then attacked and eaten by the wolf. A man in the story explained to the boy who cried wolf that if you lie, then even when you’re telling the truth, no one will believe you.
A child’s lie is obviously somewhat different from an adult’s lie in that the child is still growing and learning and does not always
understand the consequences of the lie. An adult, on the other hand, has learned the difference between a lie and the truth and knows that the consequences can be devastating; yet they also consider the consequences to themselves if they are found out after they have
already lied, so they generally tell lie after lie to protect their false reputation built on their lies. When the truth is finally found
out, the devastation after all those additional lies to protect their so-called reputation is so much more devastating than to have admitted the first lie — or to have told the truth in the first place.
People understand making mistakes; they also understand greed (they may have a bit of greed in their own hearts) and they understand why some might lie to protect their image or reputation, whether it’s for their children’s sake, their position in the community or their church, or for the sake of their spouse or some other loved one. So it’s not always the lie itself that is the problem or the big concern.
(If you’ve never lied, raise your hand… if I see even one hand up, chances are you’re lying now.) As we all know, it’s the lying about
the lie that is what we cannot stand. It’s always the lying about the lie that got us in the most trouble.
We want so much to believe what people tell us, yet when we know they’ve lied before, they become like the boy who cried wolf. One can only imagine a world in which everyone tells the truth because we’ll likely not see it in our time… or even hundreds of generations from now. While it seems like such a simple thing to do — just tell the truth — the very people who try to force us to tell the truth, as in
court — the lawyers and the judges, for example — are often found out to change the truth to fit their own agendas. Some are eventually found out to be living lives built on lies (having secret lovers, underworld connections, or being involved in unscrupulous business deals, etc.).
As adults who know better, we need to also learn the difference between a little exaggeration or “white” lie (such as when someone
asks us how they look and you reply, “Great!”) and the kind of lie that causes untold misery or devastation in the life in another (such
as when accusing someone of an act he did not commit and the person then suffers years in prison or the death penalty, thanks to your
lie).
We need to learn the difference between the mistakes people make and the deliberate cruel things they say and do that often ruin the lives of others. The kind of people who say and do such things have likely developed the habit of lying and creating the kind of scenarios that help their cause (be it ever so crude) and lead to the downfall of those they are trying to both discredit and defeat. (I could name names here, but I do not wish to cause even one more person to have to lash out in their own defense with yet another lie.)
What we do as an individual is on us and we will either reap its reward or pay for its folly; yet what we tell others to do so that they act in concert with us — with our beliefs or feelings or philosophy — is truly the abysmal act of a terrorist, whether or not
they think they are doing it for the good of the country or to please God. (They forget that God never plays favorites.)
The three things we must ask ourselves before we share information are: 1) Is it true? 2) Is it necessary? And 3) Is it kind? In politics, it isn’t always easy to tell the true from the untrue, or to factor in kindness before we share something, but we usually can tell if something is important enough, hence necessary, to share. (Remember that former saying we used to see on buses and billboards and such: “See Something, Say Something”?) If we knew that a bomb was placed in a particular building, would we not tell? Is that information not true? Is it not necessary? And our sincere desire to save those lives — is that not kind?
Yet those who share lies or even false stories that they never bothered to check out, or worst of all, make up the stores they share,
are then creating disasters for others by ignoring all three of the big questions mentioned above and turning their backs on everything
they ever learned about how to be a decent human being.
No matter what we teach, to anyone, we can’t beat the lesson in the golden rule.
* * * * *
Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at maramistribune@gmail.com.

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