Think about your day. What surrounds you, envelops you, comforts you, soothes you, uses you and loves you?
What's as essential as your morning coffee, as ordinary and pervasive as smog in L.A.?
You'll never admit it, but you love it. You need it, you use it, you depend on it. Your life would fall apart if you couldn't have it. Drugs? Sex? Air? Water? Rock 'n' Roll?
No, it's what business, politics, love and religion have in common.
Know anybody who doesn't lie? Maybe you do -- or maybe they're such good liars that they never get caught. Most of us use lies as social lubricants, as ways to malinger a little bit, or to make ourselves look better.
Just this morning, for example, I slipped out of the office for a latte at Pikes Perk, under the pretext of meeting a client. Lies may, as Bart Simpson's neighbor tells him, make the Baby Jesus cry, but this particular lie bought me a 10-minute break from work and a very good latte.
For the rest of the day, I'll be swimming in a murky soup of lies, both mine and everybody else's. Advertisers will try to sneak their amiable falsehoods in front of my eyes, via magazines, newspapers (not this one -- every advertising claim within these pages is fair, accurate and unbiased!), billboards and TV.
Politicians will do their smarmy little dances for us; our friends, enemies, customers and clients will fib whenever appropriate (I left you a message this morning! I thought I paid that bill! I can't possibly be overdrawn! You've lost weight! You look much better as a blonde!); and today will be just like any other day.
I guess that's why we don't need a national holiday to celebrate falsehood; for liars, it's Christmas every day of the year. And why not? What's wrong with lying a bit to get a latte, or avoid a confrontation, or sell a product? Nothing.
If Coca-Cola can convince a billion people that their lives will be slightly better if they drink Coke rather than Pepsi, fine. But let's look at lies that actually do some damage. Let's look at our public life, where the most ludicrous lies have become standard political discourse.
Watching Gary Condit on TV last week, for example, was a treat for the connoisseur of the political lie. If he actually offed Chandra Levy, it was a bravura performance by a remorseless psychopath. But he's more likely just a sleazebutt politician and serial philanderer who managed to lure a gorgeous 24-year-old into his bed. And now that he's caught up in a tragedy, he can't come clean; he has to lie in a pathetic attempt to save his sorry ass. By now, he probably believes his own b.s.
Closer to home, if you caught Jim Hightower's paleoliberal screed in last week's Indy, you'd see that there are still some unregenerate Hubert Humphrey Democrats who believe that the American people are positively yearning for massive new government programs.
And if you read the occasional columns by Hightower's counterparts on the right, they seem to think that the American people are just panting to preserve frozen embryos and drill in the Alaska National Wildlife Preserve. Our national political debate -- not to mention state and local -- is defined by a bunch of unconvincing lies that we all pretend to take seriously.
The Bush administration pretends to be all worried about the North Korean/Iraqi missile threat, while the Dems wring their hands over the impending collapse of Social Security (thanks, of course to the Bushie tax cut).
Both sides agree that we need a military capable of taking out Darth Vader and the Death Star, let alone the few puny enemies we have left in the world (Osama bin Laden, North Korea and Iraq, last I looked).
Locally, our august City Council pretends that the latest urban renewal scheme is the key to creating a shining new city, not an elaborate moneymaking scam structured to benefit a few insiders.
Governor Bill Owens is all for the war on drugs, unless it involves the pot plant growing in his own back yard.
And we're all for protecting the environment, limiting sprawl, and protecting endangered species, unless we have to give up our big honkin' SUVs, or let the bears/mountain lions roam through our back yards.
Yep, we're living in a sweetly scented swamp of lies, without the smallest smidgen of truth to be found. But rejoice! It's a free country! That means we get to choose which lies to tell -- and which to believe.
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