Lying to your Children: Lie for me
The squealing brakes startled Josh awake. He screamed. Only for a moment. Because he felt as much as heard, that something was wrong. Beside him, in the driver’s seat, Josh’s dad, Ron, cursed incoherently, though remarkably loudly & quickly. After a few moments of this, Ron turned to Josh like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Josh had no idea what he had done wrong, but he anticipated the usual slap. Only harder. He closed his eyes.
No slap came. Instead, Ron grabbed him by both shoulders and shook him while screaming: “Listen to me! Open your eyes! Look at me! Nothing happened! Got it? Nothing happened! Say it! Tell me nothing happened!”
Josh was more than fully awake now. He was used to going from sleep to panic in one thunderous heartbeat ever since Mom had run off with that Jared guy. But what nothing was dad talking about…? Suddenly, Josh remembered … there was a heavy THUD! Someone had screamed. They must have hit someone. Now, Dad’s trying to cover it up.
Running through the entire list of strategies in his communications playbook, Ron decided that if his son didn’t understand, it was now necessary to repeat what was said before but more loudly and with stronger shaking of the shoulders and with an even more menacing look. So, that’s what he did.
But this time Josh had worked it out. He knew what was required.
“Daddy! Nothing happened!”
Ron’s face melted back into one that looked vaguely human as he said, “That’s right! That’s right! And, now listen here! This is important! If anyone else asks you, you just say you don’t know nothing and nothing happened. You got that?”
Josh nodded solemnly, pretending to be completely in awe of and compliant for Ron — something he had learned long ago as a survival strategy.
The police interview went something like this:
Police Officer: “So Josh. Tell me about where you were and what you did last evening.”
Josh: “Sure, Officer. Nothing happened. I mean I went with my dad to see that new movie, The Raiders of the Lost Arc. It was great! And, then, nothing happened. I don’t remember. My dad drove home and I fell asleep. Nothing happened. I don’t remember. Any other questions?”
Police Officer: “Josh, did your daddy tell you to say that nothing happened? Did he make you promise?”
Josh: “I don’t remember! Nothing happened!”
Police Officer: “Okay, Josh. I think we get the picture. Thank you for your help.
Josh went out and saw his dad about to be taken into an interrogation room. As he passed by, Josh used a stage whisper to his dad: “I did just like you told me, Dad.”
Dad was put away for a good long time.
Sadly, although Josh came out ahead in this particular snippet of his life, learning to become a more clever liar is not really a good long-term strategy. Josh discovered this for himself, on the way down. Oddly, people said, he was killed by the fall. Of course, in truth, very few people die from falls, per se. It is the landing that kills.
Moral of the Story: Telling a lie to your kids is like giving them a poison.
Sometimes, it’s fast acting poison.
Sometimes, it’s slow acting poison.
But it’s always poison.
And, here’s the real magic of it. It’s poison for the lie teller as well! Yes, indeed! It is a double-edged sword extraordinaire because it cuts the sword wielder as well as the sword shielder.
Can you ever imagine that you would intentionally tell your kid the wrong way to perform a skill so that they would get fewer hits, or throw more errors, or serve more double faults, or hurt themselves with tools? Of course not! If they were about to go into a road race, would you cut their brake lines? Of course not! But propagating a lie is exactly like that — handicapping one’s own children in their coming attempts to survive in this world.
Propagating a lie is a big deal. And propagating a Big Lie is an even bigger deal. Whatever the reason, it’s something whose harm is more like a plague or a cancer than a punch. The poison spreads often well beyond the liar and the original target of the lie. When more people lie in the society, there is less trust. When there is less trust, there is more need for regulation and coordination. That inevitably results in friction. So long as all parties play by the rules and tell the truth, it will eventually be resolved and there will be an increase in trust. However, if one side cheats and lies, no matter who wins, there will be a ripple of distrust all through society.
Which is kind of the point, you see?
Josh’s dad Ron may not have known how his actions would undermine his own life as well as his son’s. But the people trying to destroy American Democracy? They know exactly why they’re spreading lies and what it will mean. They are spreading the cancer of distrust and division intentionally. Why? Because dividing is how the few conquer the many. It’s a playbook that has been run over and over and over in human history.
Think about it.
How can a relatively small group of criminals take over a country? They can do it by distracting everyone else into thinking the enemy is not the crime gang but the other victims of the theft of a nation. They cannot possibly do it by telling the truth. The truth is that only the ruling crime family will necessarily benefit by a dictatorship. Nor can the Crime Family take over by force. There are far too few of them. And, they are cowards to boot. They could co-opt the military. They tried that but it didn’t work.
Telling poisonous lies is their major remaining option.
It’s evil, but it’s understandable, given that all they care about is power.
But ordinary people lying to their own children?
There’s something deeply disturbing about that, most especially when the lie isn’t even for the benefit of anyone involved.
The parent won’t benefit.
The child won’t benefit.
No-one who overhears the lie will benefit.
The only person who benefits is the would-be Diktator of AmeriKKKa (let’s use “Dik” for short) because the lying parent is practicing giving away their own agency and putting it in the hands of the Dik. It’s no accident that some of the lies put their own life at risk along with the lives of their family & friends. They are being trained to put the Dik above the life and welfare of what they previously loved most dearly in the world.
Stories of a fictional child sociopath
The Winning Weekend Warrior – Sports psychology book aimed to help you win more — whatever that means for you.
Turing’s Nightmares — SciFi scenarios about the possible future impacts of AI on our lives, our families, our society.
Fit in Bits — How to stay more fit by working more variety & fun into daily activities.
Tales from an American Childhood — A partial autobiography that examines incidents from the 1950’s and relates them to contemporary issues.
Ray V. said:
Lying is never good, regardless of hoe “ big” the lie is. Unfortunately, it is part of human nature.
John Thomas said:
True, but just as practice makes one a better baseball player, accountant, or writer — if you’re open to feedback, you can definitely come to rely more and more on the truth.
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