"Two hours wait? We hoped to reach Calgary," I blurt up at the ferry terminal attendant. Even as I speak it I know I'm lying; right from the start we'd planned only to drive half way. Why do we say such things? What provokes the exaggeration other than to bolster the ego, elicit sympathy, gain favor to be put in the fast lane, to put another in their place? The attendant looks slightly hurt, as though she's tired of passengers laying the blame directly on her. But I receive the docket, go to lane seven, and switch off the engine. Two-hours wait-time instead of driving is a long way.
Those little lies we tell have their origins in deep wells. As children we learn to cover up our mistakes once the consequence is perceived as too harsh. I submit that we have a natural wont for consequence, an awareness that we've done wrong or should own up to something, particularly once we've gained the use of language, independent mobility, awareness of thought. Dogs can act guiltily. A cat I had knew it should not be in flower pots. But once the punishment, the result, the consequence for my actions taught me that prevarication eases things, it became a ready escape. Without a mentor to take me in hand in terms of the honour and integrity to be had in a greater wisdom, the little lies sometimes evolved into big ones, and the spirit gets sullied by the pathway of deceits.
Integrity as a concept is more difficult to come by than we may at practice imagine. A myriad choices lie before us at every opportunity to satisfy our investigation into our personal power. Almost always we are con-scribed to action due to being social beings within a social context of expectations inculcated by our conditioning. But all by oneself becomes the real test. As a lone castaway we may indeed make of a basket-ball head a social consort, but we will devolve into less and less good manners in front of it as we perceive its immutable stare to eventually become harmless. We react based on expectations. So we learn that truth has great value, or we learn that truth can be harmful to ourselves, to others. Truth as truth is most tested in situational-ethics. After all, ethics has as its first tenant that the least amount of harm be done.
Subtly of lying is the art of the survivor. Not wanting to face the music (though what music except the death march should be so harsh as to deter one from truth?) we create a background reality of relief from guilt. "Did you take your pills?" the nurse asks. "Yes," I answer, thinking of the last time I took them long ago but she didn't precisely specify. After all, she so berated the fellow next to me for not taking his that I do not choose to have more of her wrath. And therein lies the crux of the issue: were she to have been sweet and gentle, reminded him how crucial to his integrity the contract with the condition he is in be taken (along with the pills) then I more readily would've faced the music. But who wants a bassoon-full in the ear?
As for the ferry-lady, she did not deserve my lie. I think to have my crippled self wheeled by my partner back to apologize, but the chair is tied to the rooftop, the distance too far. Yet I remain guilty; in so leaving off, or not even thinking again about the lie, who and what else may become crippled? When is a truth best not told? What harm may not be done by untruth? Mia culpa per diem per se. (Such are my daily faults.) Truly! Ha!