You lie, I lie, we all lie — even without thinking about it sometimes. We often don’t mean to lie—someone asks if we enjoyed something, such as that very atrocious shirt Grandma gave us at Christmas, and because we love Grandma, we reply, “Of course.” Because our discontent over an object means nothing in comparison to the feelings of someone we love. Then there are the stronger lies, when someone says, “Did you get such and such done?” And you’re thinking, “Uh oh. I went to do it and . . .” “Yes,” you say, determined to rush home and take care of the forgotten project. “I’ll get that to you right away.”
Lies can keep getting darker and stronger, and we’ve all known the people who have lied so much to themselves that they have no idea what the truth is anymore. Lies can maim, they can kill, and they can destroy a soul — both their own and others.
The Unconscious Truth
As parents, we know our children lie, and we work hard to discourage them from doing it. Saying it’s wrong (and it is) may not always be enough for the independent teen who demands to know “why” over everything we say. Adrienne Rich—author, poet, and feminist—wrote about lying and its effects on the human soul. An article on brainpickings.org said about the famed poet: “Long before psychologists identified the four most reliable ways to spot a liar, Adrienne Richwrote beautifully about what is actually at stake when we lie and how lying in all of its permutations — especially those subtle everyday evasions and untruths we tend to attribute to circumstance or to the misguided mercy of sparing others pain — chips away at our basic humanity.”
Adrienne insists that truth is not universal—that one person’s truth is not another’s, that it is not one thing, but thousands of things—millions of things. But because of this, striving for honesty is imperative. Humanity—and our individual souls—depends on it.
“In lying to others,” Adrienne Rich wrote, “we end up lying to ourselves. We deny the importance of an event, or a person, and thus deprive ourselves of a part of our lives. Or we use one piece of the past or present to screen out another. Thus we lose faith even within our own lives.
“The unconscious wants truth, as the body does. The complexity and fecundity of dreams come from the complexity and fecundity of the unconscious struggling to fulfill that desire.”