Lie or Untruth?

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Before reading on to the next sentence, answer this simple question in your mind: What is the polar opposite of a truth? Your brain most likely required minimal synapse activity to solve this one. The answer is embedded so deeply into our brains, that the word “lie” pops into our consciousness as if it were a reflex. When asked this question, 10 out of 10 people will have the exact same answer. Therefore, according to societal norms, a lie is simply something that is untrue. Does this mean that a preacher is essentially a liar? The bulk of what makes up the Christian religion has yet to be scientifically proven, which in our culture is synonymous to being deemed as “untrue”. Yet, even when a non-believer pictures a man draped in robes, standing atop a pulpit and promising his audience acceptance into the afterlife, he does not think to brand him with such a severe label as a liar. His views on God, the past, and the future are instead thought of as mere opinions. Why is this? The key to understanding the answer lies in understanding the true meaning of what it means to lie.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a lie is “an assertion of something known or believed by the speaker to be untrue with intent to deceive”. After understanding the meaning of lying in this new light, it is clear that what prevents the preacher from being seen as a liar is not that he is speaking the truth, but that he wholeheartedly believes himself to be. Our societal definition of lie has been misleading. A lie is not a falsehood in accordance to something as universal and concrete as the laws of nature or what has been proven scientifically, but rather a deceit in relation to ones own mind. By altering your own mind or changing what you believe, you can turn what would have previously been considered a lie, into the absolute, legitimate truth.

Now, the distinction has been made that an untruth is something physically contrary to reality, whereas a lie depends completely on the mentality of the individual who is telling it. In light of this new understanding of what it means to lie, it becomes clear that one may convey false information without necessarily lying, and vice versa. The most essential step in mastering this complicated yet useful skill is to trick yourself into believing in the reality of your claim.

One way to do this is to practice the often overlooked art of story telling. The power to transport others out of reality and into the heart of a medieval battle or a suspenseful chase has been used for decades by authors and performers as a means of entertainment. However, rarely do people realize that they too are performing a story for an audience when telling a lie. It is assumed by bad liars that conveying false information involves telling a story solely to the person whom you are trying to deceive. However, you must also tell a story for the purpose of enthralling and captivating yourself if you wish to convey false information without being burdened by the guilt and anxiety of an actual lie. Practice keeping your brain on it’s toes by challenging yourself to sporadically entertain your friends or family with stories created on the spot. At first it will feel like your creative juices are slipping slowly and reluctantly out of hibernation, their flow being dammed by your deceit-wary instincts. However, once your imagination is stretched and warmed up, your stories will flow so naturally that they will seem to develop themselves. With enough practice, your ideas will roll out so fluidly that you’ll feel like you are making up the story, and at the same time being surprised and frightened by your own plotline as if you were a spectator. Once you are able to capture the minds of your listeners with the power of story, you will be able to flip this phenomenon inside out and transport yourself out of the present moment, making yourself believe in your own story or lie while simultaneously telling it.

While words can have a powerful grip on the malleability of the human mind, sight is an even more convincing way of altering your own thoughts and beliefs. When reading a novel, I find it much easier to block out distractions and fully submerge myself in the scene if I picture the meaning of the words on the paper rather than reading the physical letters aloud in my head. For example, if the words “the cat walked along the fence” appeared in a sentence, I would picture the plump, tangerine cat from next door sauntering with an air of arrogance as he places one furry paw in front of the other as if walking on a tightrope. When conveying false information, try to transform the details of your story directly into mental images. Be specific; if your mom asks you where you were last night, and you are trying to cover up your drunken escapade with an innocent story of a girls night in, force your memory to believe you were actually there. Picture the rain drenching Ryan Goslings golden locks as he embraces Rachel McAdams in your favorite scene from The Notebook; visualize the radiance of the sparkles in your purple nail polish that you painted onto the over-clipped toenails of your best friend. Visualizing your words should temporarily trick your memory into believing your fictional story actually occurred, because as the saying goes, seeing is believing.

Everything we think, sense, or experience is a mere cognitive perception of the world around us. We do not see a rose and think it’s beautiful because it simply is. This notion is a mental evaluation of something that is physically present in our surroundings. Similarly, a lie is nothing but a mental perception of a physical event. Whether or not the physical event occurred is out of our control, but whether we believe that it happened lies only in the hands of thought, which is ultimately within our power to mold as we choose.





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