By Tinky Ningombam
Lie (verb): to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive
We have often been preached by older folks: parents, family, teachers and even friends against lying. Our society functions by the premise that we will not lie to deceive others or to malign them or misconstrue a different reality other than what is. The justice system especially depends on the assurance or re-assurance of truth, at-least in principle.
But imagine if you were to take a sworn testimony at the moment you were born to stick to truth and nothing but the truth. Let’s put our imagination to test. Let’s imagine a world without lies : To swear by Almighty God that we will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Imagine that no-one ever speaks a single lie in his/her life. Will there be no disputes, no misunderstandings and no injustice?
Yes, we have all had the wild theory in our heads before, maybe on a quiet morning, a rainy day, maybe at the evening tea stall. We have all wished “Oh, if only no-one lied in this world!” My recent musing became vivid as I recalled a movie I watched some years back called “The Invention of Lying”. It is a comedy but definitely not one of those slapstick romantic comedies or the wannabe-Hangover movies. This Ricky Gervais and Jennifer Garner starrer presents an alternate world where no-one knows how to lie. In this world people say the absolute truth to each other, often seen as “cruel” in our worldly standards. So Garner tells Gervais on their date that she is not attracted to him, because of his looks and unsuccessful financial situation and because she doesn’t want her babies to have his ugly looks and his stub nose. Gervais’ character is a scriptwriter who later becomes the only person on earth who can lie and he takes advantage of it, (ethically as he assures himself) first to get the girl, then to make money. This 2009 movie didn’t go down too well for movie critics for the direction. But I personally think it had an amazing original concept.
A world without lies: A very simple thought with overwhelming possibilities. But do we want to hear the truth all the time? I hardly think so. Do we want to be called fat or unattractive or intellectually challenged even when we are? Can we stomach unadulterated truth? Or are these so-called “low-blow insults” only constructs of a “personality-conscious” society?
Abiding by absolute truths will be quite a herculean task to pursue. We will not be able to outwit physically stronger or genetically superior people. People will either accept fellow men and women with their innate negative thoughts or evil intentions or they will be treated as outcasts as per the level of acceptance. We will have a different perspective of what “perfection” is or what ideal human traits are. We will be empirical, practical and seemingly hateful most times.
Though it is clearly subjective on what absolute truth implies for different people. Truth has many perspectives and many interpretations. A glass half full is also half empty. Because even truly honest people find solace at the fact that lying for someone else’s good is a forgivable lie.
But all in all, would I exchange this world with a world without any lies? Perhaps not. Humans have not been the most optimistic creatures on earth. I wouldn’t have people telling me of the drudgery of life and the impending oblivion after death, even if it be their own truths. It will be quite a depressing place to live in.
(“Fiction was invented the day Jonah arrived home and told his wife that he was three days late because he had been swallowed by a whale..”
– Gabriel García Márquez )