The recent election has made me wonder just what constitutes being mature. Certainly, we were all raised to know the difference between telling the truth and lying. Lying is something that criminals and bad people do. However, according to the New York Times, we have arrived at a time in history that views lying slightly differently.

In our revisionist view of truth, it is apparently acceptable to tell a lie if, one: it is convenient to the task at hand (getting elected or getting laid); or two: it is helpful in selling something (the same old product or yourself). So tweaking the truth has become part of the culture of the day.

I need to practice up on this. It doesn’t come naturally. I guess I have to start small. I could start by denying things that I have said in the past. “What? No, you must be mistaken. I didn’t say I was going on a diet last week. Pass the brownies.” Politicians do this all the time. So do white collar criminals. The more things that we say and revise, the harder it is to keep track of what is really going on. Movie stars are good at this, also. They all deny having had plastic surgery.

I have trouble, however, with the bald faced lie. This is the one in which a politician or CEO or Hitler simply makes something up in order to take over the world or rape the consumer. I don’t know how they do it. It must have something to do with what scientists say goes on in the brain when we contradict reality: a lie, if we tell it to ourselves often enough, can become true. To us. I guess that is how those men who said that rape can’t result in conception did it. I wonder how many times their wives had to go over that one in their heads.

Of course, “white” lies have always been dear to our hearts. Sometimes, they are essential. I never trust those research studies that tell us how much sex we are having. If a girlfriend asks me if I like her new puce shrug, I answer “it’s gorgeous.” We have to lie in order to maintain our own sense of esteem and keep our friends and family from losing theirs.

When I was in grade school, we wrote everything in pencil. This was, of course, because kids make so many mistakes while learning. Children have to have the option to erase and start over. Some kids like me made so many mistakes we needed an extra BIG eraser that fitted over the one provided on the pencil. My Mom always bought me a dozen or so of those at the beginning of the school year. The mark of maturity was ink. Starting in Junior High, we all took pens to school. No erasing—we were now adults, and expected to stand by our answers. To think before we wrote. There was no erasing, no turning back. If we put the answer down in pen, it had to stay that way forever.

Once again, it seems very simple. The world could be a better and more truthful place. We could all lessen confusion about what is fact and what is fiction. Politicians might once again be trustworthy. There could be clarity in all things. Why has no one thought of this?

Outlaw pencils.

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