(Dis)honesty: Intentions & (In)significance.

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The Last Supper

Leonardo da Vinci, 1495 – 1496.


The gist of The Last Supper was that Jesus invited his twelve disciples for dinner on the first day of Passover. He stated that one of the disciples will soon betray him; one by one, all of them denied his claim (including Judas).

We all know what happened afterward. If not, please refer to this link, since that is where I got my story at. It’s important to check your sources before writing. I know I probably missed out a great chunk of detail, because this isn’t my realm at all.

The point I’m trying to make here is: no matter who you are, deceit is ubiquitous. The only distinguishing factor is the motive behind it.


“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

– Mark Twain, Mark Twain’s Notebook.


Thanks, Mark Twain, smartass.

I have the innate ability to forget and retain certain memories even when I’m being truthful. How would he explain that? I believe it boils down to how I prioritize specific knowledge.

Important Dates? Absolutely horrid with them, which explains why I have to mark certain birthdays on my planner and set reminders on my phone a week beforehand so I remember to write a card and buy and send gift(s) on time. The positive from this is since I can’t remember “special” days, I don’t sweat about them if others forget. You can also be sure that if I do remember someone’s birthday or whatever important date related to him / her, it means that I care a lot about that person.

Food & Beverages? For instance, I remember if someone drinks coffee or not. Does this person drink cappuccino, espresso, or latte, and what is his / her favorite? It’s permanently stored in my head. This also applies for alcohol, dietary restrictions & allergies, food & drink preferences if they were mentioned to me.

I’m also pretty great with specific moments, if that hasn’t been obvious from my short stories as they were all inspired by snippets of my memory.

I digress. I’ll go into priorities another day.

The critical factor to note here is that even though the truth takes less mental effort for one to recall than lies, memories (with the exception of written communication) are not that reliable.

Consider the logistics when you lie: you’d have to remember who you lied to, under what context, and you’d probably have to fabricate a few more details to make it seem a bit more realistic, too. That is a lot of work. Mental exertion combined with volatile memory is the perfect recipe for disaster. The purpose of deceit is to fool the other person into believing what you have told them instead of having them know the truth. It could be for self-preservation, ego purposes, inflating self-worth, not wanting to hurt the other person’s feelings, or whatever you say to make yourself sleep well at night…it doesn’t matter. It’s blatant that the negatives of being upfront outweighs the deception, and as long as you decide to lie, at least give others some credit regarding their intelligence and make it so that the story is believable. Always check if there are any major plot holes to your story line.

[Note: I’m not encouraging anyone to lie, nor am I giving anyone tips about it. This is all common sense. I mean, come on, if you didn’t give a thought to all this process before you lie, chances are people can sniff your bullshit out easily. They might be too kind to call you out, or they’re just not that bothered at all. Indifference seems terrible in this case as they don’t give a shit if you’re lying. It’s most likely because they don’t care about you that much as a person or believe that the damage has been done, and that there’s a lack of respect and trust from your side, so why bother? Both of these, in turn, will impair your ego. Regardless of reactivity, you are definitely labeled as disrespectful and untrustworthy (or at least somewhat) behind your back. Always be ready for the potential of your lies backfiring, and please don’t act like a little whiny piece of shit when someone exposes you. What were you expecting from it, a pat on the back and a gold star sticker when the truth comes out? Don’t be ridiculous.]


We all lie, so I’m not going to even deny that. It doesn’t matter if the fib is as white as a freshly painted wall and under great intentions (read: surprise party), it’s still a certain degree of dishonesty.

I’m not here to condone dishonesty nor to reprimand lies, because there are plenty of sources out there for that already. It is also a personal choice that no one but you can decide on. The severity of deception (and whether or not it has caused anyone pain and / or loss as well as its repercussion) is dependent on the parties involved and the circumstances. We actually don’t live in a world that’s just black and white, where right is so clearly separate from wrong. A good chunk of it is murky gray. We learn that, occasionally with pain, as we age.

Sometimes absolutes do not exist, so we have to determine how each situation affects us – mainly with the aid of our experiences, relationships, and boundaries. We do cluelessly run into a wall at times, but we live and learn from our injuries (…hopefully immediately from our mistakes, and if not, we do change eventually when it hurts too much to stay the same).

[Note: If anyone’s interested in reading about deception, the National Geographic has a great article called Why We Lie: The Science Behind Our Deceptive Ways. It’s heavily related to psychology, especially developmental psychology. It’s intriguing to know the why behind lying despite knowing your personal motives behind them. You can probably learn a lesson or two by learning about other people’s intentions…not to blame them, but just to be a bit more empathetic.]


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Medusa

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, 1597.


According to an excerpt about Medusa from Ancient History Encyclopedia:

“Medusa was a formidable foe, since her hideous appearance was able to render any onlooker into stone. In some variations of the myth, Medusa was born a monster like her sisters, described as girded with serpents, vibrating tongues, gnashing their teeth, having wings, brazen claws, and enormous teeth. In later myths (mainly in Ovid) Medusa was the only Gorgon to possess snake locks, because they were a punishment from Athena. Accordingly, Ovid relates that the once beautiful mortal was punished by Athena with a hideous appearance and loathsome snakes for hair for having been raped in Athena’s temple by Poseidon.

Holy shit.

I’ve never studied Greek mythology much other than the required readings at school and college. However, I’ve always found Medusa intriguing, because the icon of fashion house Versace is inspired by Medusa, and I dabbled in that industry before out of love.

I did some more research on this version of the story (oddly, Ovid was a Roman poet reciting Greek mythology – I’m sure there’s some sort of influence and connection though), but Medusa begged Athena for forgiveness. First of all, there was no use for dishonesty here, because, well, the perpetrator and executor of Medusa’s transformation were both deities and by that assumption, they probably had overall knowledge about the situation anyway. To add on, how was it possible for Medusa, a mortal, to physically fight off Poseidon, a god? Let’s be realistic over here.

[Note: I feel like I need to elaborate on a few things here. I’m not, in any way, saying that females are weak, nor am I implying that males do not get raped. I am simply referring to Medusa’s story in this case. It was a god versus mortal situation, and if you’ve ever touched base with Greek mythology, you’d know it’s pretty messed up.

All scenarios of rape and assault are unacceptable. Every single case leaves permanent scars on the victims.

If you are a victim: do not feel ashamed to reach out to your local rape crisis center as well as trusted friends and family for the assistance and support you need. If you feel like you need professional therapy or counseling from this, please try your best to disregard your hesitation (whether it comes from shame, social stigma, and / or trauma) and reach out in order to get the appropriate support from certified psychologists or psychiatrists. They are here to help, and you always have the option to change professionals if you do not feel comfortable with the one you encounter.]

This tale in particular relays an important, yet somewhat cruel and overlooked point, which is: honesty, as important and virtuous as it is, may not bring you the best outcome at times.


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The Creation of Adam

Michelangelo, 1512.


“Not that you lied to me but that I no longer believe you has shaken me.”

– Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil.

(Unfamiliar? Perhaps this common Nietzsche misquote rings a bell: “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”)


When we are consciously aware that we are being lied to, we tend to seek out the why, or the intention. Depending on the situation and the liar (not in terms of relatively innocuous white lies), we tend to feel a combination of confusion, hurt, mistrust, and doubt (including self-doubt, where you start questioning your memory). Some of the motives behind the deceit are easier to figure out than others, but if you have trouble figuring out the motives, try putting yourself in that person’s shoes and see if you can hypothesize the drive ultimately, does it matter?

I think the even more burning questions to ask here, when faced with lies, are:

  • How severe is the situation to you? Take a good minute here and think of how this affects you. You can think about the other person, but remember that you are actually more important than the other person. Is it selfish? Perhaps, but you have to live and deal with yourself throughout your entire life, so give yourself a bit more credit over here.
  • What is the effect of the dishonesty? By this, I mean if there were anything (physical or not) that were damaged because of this incident.
  • Has this happened with this person before? This is a huge deal, because I’m a believer of second chances at times. If this has never happened before, and the other person apologies sincerely and proves how he / she regrets his / her lie(s) through actions, then I’m open to the possibility of forgiveness. Trust does take time and consistent actions to build back though. It’s important to note that forgiveness does not equate to trust. However, if consistent lying is happening here, there is a lack of respect and trust and you should leave. You are better than being a doormat. If you were to stay and to cast off repeated empty threats to the liar without any actions backing your words, you are automatically considered as someone who doesn’t deserve any ounce of (self)-respect, (self)-trust, and (self)-love. The word self is in parenthesis, because both you and the liar are mistreating you. One severe repercussion from this is that your self-esteem will be shot and go up in smoke by the fire you lit up. Tread with caution as you do teach others how they should treat you.

Ultimately though, it is up to you to call the shots and gauge each situation as objectively as it is. Deception is common and we are all at fault and fuck up at times. The difference over here is whether you are willing to take accountability in both scenarios.

If you mess up and want to mend your relationship, then the best thing you can do is to provide authentic vulnerability, be completely open about reason behind your deception, apologize sincerely, prove that you are remorseful by changing, and give the other party some time to trust you again. You have to accept the possibility that the other person might not trust you as much as before, too. It’s part of the consequence.

If someone else mess up, it’s also up to you to decide whether you should stay or to go. If he / she apologies, I’m pretty sure you can tell whether or not it’s sincere. Magnify the actions, because if there are none, the words should just be considered as sweet nothings. Don’t put him / her on a pedestal and start making up excuses for the liar. He / she isn’t dumb, but probably not as smart (or doesn’t care that much, but more likely on the intelligence part with a combination of indifference). If that person were to make amends and take responsibility for his / her action after apologizing, you should also stay mindful about not bringing up past shit consistently just because you want to guilt trip him / her. In cruder terms: don’t be a petty fucker if you decide to forgive someone and that person is legitimately sorry and trying to make it up to you.

Obviously, the best you can do is to try and be honest in as many situations as possible. I understand how the prospect of saying the truth might be terrifying. Sometimes it’s great to get away, or at least believe that you are getting away with deception due to the other person’s lack of reaction. However, keep note that the delayed truth might come back to bite you in the ass one day. If that were to happen, the intention and the possible lies that you’ve fed yourself will look pretty pale and pathetic in comparison. Take note of this and you have no one else but yourself to blame. Sincerity is a powerful tool, but it has to come from a genuine place. When you demonstrate that virtue along with accountability for your actions, it will be recognized, and forgiveness will come afterwards.


“Nothing in this world is harder than speaking the truth, nothing easier than flattery.”

– Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment.


 

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