The silent lie

Dishonesty isn’t always a lie. It’s often an unspoken truth. In fact, unspoken truths are probably the source of more dishonesty than outright lies.

We remain silent when we feel threatened by the revelation of the truth.

That threat is not always about exposure of who we are. Sometimes, it’s because we don’t want to bear the responsibility of meeting the expectations that are raised if we spoke out.

Like speaking out in defence of the truth, or vouching for someone’s character, or giving due credit. It all demands that we follow through with sincerity and consistency.

This is most often the reason why we choose to be dishonest and remain silent, instead of speaking out and accepting the responsibility of the consequences.

Why gratitude is all that matters

Gratitude speaks more to our soul than any gift or trinket, or whispers of endearment.

Gratitude is impossible without respect,
and respect is impossible without honesty,
and honesty is impossible without sincerity.

And so it continues until we realise that expecting gratitude or appreciation from someone that lacks any of these fundamental traits in their character is an exercise in futility.

We cannot give what we don’t have.

We can therefore not be grateful of others if we lack gratitude for ourselves.

Honest Lies

Dishonesty is the worst form of disrespect. It’s a show of disrespect to yourself before it says anything about the value you place on others. Far too often we convince ourselves of the need for the lesser of two evils to justify the dishonesty, but in the process we set in motion a sequence of events that undermines the very same greater good that those lesser evils are supposed to serve.

It is so easy to shy away from being unpopular while claiming to uphold good relations. White lies aside, it’s the dark truths that we don’t have the courage to utter that convinces us that anyone else would have done the same thing; protect ourselves from vulnerability or weakness at all costs, because everyone does it, so it must be right. Vulnerability or weakness is only that if we care about appearing inept or incapable of fulfilling an expectation that others have of us. We start out by convincing ourselves that we dare not disappoint someone special and thus step on the slippery slope of dishonesty, instead of accepting that it is in fact our pride in not wanting to appear inept or incapable that we chose to hide in the first place.

But why hide it? Surely if they’re so special they will understand and love us for the weaknesses we hold within? Perhaps it’s because we made them special before they earned such stature in our lives? We build the pedestals that we place them on and then curse them for tumbling down from the top of it. We build those pedestals for them because believing that they are deserving of it feeds our need to be associated with such amazing humanness. It is the curse of needing validation and inclusion. That feeling of acceptance and not being alone. Too many sell their souls to fill that gap only to realise that the gap filled with lies and pretences evicted their soul in the process. It’s the easiest path to losing yourself to the world and then wondering why the world has no sweetness left in it. Perhaps such idealism has no place in a society that has normalised dishonesty.

The veneer of who we are is infinitely more important than the substance below the surface. That’s why so many are crushed the moment the veneer is stripped away and the substance of who they are is laid bare for them and the world to see. We polish the image and embellish it with intricate details, convinced that the detail is the substance, but still forgetting that it’s only for the facade. It only reveals the prettiness of the aesthetic while concealing the bitterness within. The bitterness spawned by failed relationships, dysfunctional homes, judgemental social structures, and a lack of authenticity in a life unlived.

Not everyone experiences life this way. There are some that have wholesome relationships, a healthy self esteem, and contribute meaningfully towards those around them with a healthy dose of gratitude in return. But given the level of rage in the world, the masses that hide from responsibility and seek abdication instead are by far the greater of the two groups. Given the trinkets and distractions that have formed the wealthiest industries in the world, the wholesome ones are few, and insular. Insular from fear of contamination, I suspect.

But reality is what we experience it to be. Lies or not, we’re all frogs boiling in the proverbial pot, adapting to the delusions as they form thick and fast around us, while becoming expert navigators through its jungle of deceit without noticing the life that such proficiency denies us. We ascend to the top of the canopies of that jungle and look down around us feeling triumphant and fulfilled, not realising that true fulfilment lies at the edge of the jungle in the sun-kissed fields waiting for us to sow the crops that we wish to reap, rather than reap the thorns of the jungle of deceit.

We lie with sincerity more often than we care to accept, because it’s the lie often spoken that becomes the truth. Our belief in it being true lends our sincerity to its telling, but does not in any way convert a lie to the truth. We’re all honest liars at some point in our lives. Problem is, those some points become many points, and eventually become the norm for too many of us. That is why the world is now a daydream that ends in a nightmare more often than it is a nightmare that ends in a pleasant awakening.

Reciprocation

I’ve seen myself walking a path through a barren land. In the distance, the very farthest end of the horizon, beautiful clouds gathered, non-threatening and cool in appearance. Rolling over itself casually as if waiting patiently for my arrival. I did not rush to meet it, because my companion was lagging behind. The sun where I stood circling in the sand, was beating down mercilessly. I could walk towards the comfort that awaited me, but my companion was looking worn and disheartened. From where she stood, the horizon looked very different. It was barren, just like the area surrounding us. She was too far back to see the clouds awaiting our arrival. So she slowed even more.

I too slowed down. I could see it for the both of us, so it didn’t matter that she couldn’t. What mattered was that we got there together. So I halted, waited, and slowly made my way back to her to help her along. Shielding her eyes with my hands in the hope that it may reveal the clouds, she continued to look back. Back at the barren land with traces of smoke still pluming into the sky from where she left. She kept looking back hoping for the smoke to stop, but it didn’t. And the smell still stuck in her nose taunting her with images of the horrors she had seen before leaving that place.

So I pulled her closer, steadied her footing, and gently nudged her forward so that we could start our journey again. The horizon slowly fading, even the clouds dissipating as I dragged the weight of us both towards that horizon. What little food and drink I had, I kept for her. She needed it more than I did. I could see the end in sight, and it gave me hope. She couldn’t see it, so she needed hope. And the little sustenance that remained was hope enough for her. If nothing else, it delayed the inevitable, as she peered over her shoulder again staring longingly at the plumes of smoke still barely visible in the distance.

She ate and drank and regained her strength, as I slowly wilted beside her. But I didn’t show my wilting spirit. She needed hope, and I needed to be strong. Each step drained me more, while each step infused a newfound sense of determination in her. As she picked up her pace, I started lagging behind. The clouds on the horizon now creeping into view for her, she finally saw what kept me going all that time. Almost spent, I needed a moment to gather my strength for that final push to tear us away from those plumes of smoke forever.

As I paused to rest, she grew impatient. I looked at her with the slightest smile on my face, as if asking her if she finally sees what I was pushing for all that time. Instead of a soft word, I received a scowl. I had now become the weight that was slowing her down to get to the destination that I fought to reach for the both of us. But that didn’t matter. The plumes were now gone, or even if they weren’t, she found hope to distract her from those plumes. Nourished with the little reserves we had left, she powered on and left me there, catching my breath, taking a moment to pause, to gather my strength so that I could stand up tall enough to get a glimpse of the clouds that was enough to feed my soul and my battered limbs.

The clouds. Even though I could no longer see them, I still knew they were there. She disappeared into the distance as I kept steadily advancing a single pace at a time, until I rediscovered my rhythm. The same rhythm that kept me going for the both of us before, was now more than sufficient to keep me going by myself. I gathered pace, and scanned the horizon. Suddenly, the clouds melted in a haze of heatwaves rising lazily from the sand. As I looked around, I realised it was a mirage, and to the right, a slight distance further, around the side of the rocky cliffs that flanked our journey for so long, it appeared majestically in lush green shades, and the whitest clouds. I wanted to call out to her to turn back, but she was gone.

[This attempt at a creative abstract personifies the journey that many of us take in our efforts to uplift others. Sometimes we expend ourselves to the point where we become the burden that we hoped to help others rise above. And sometimes, if we’re fortunate, we catch ourselves before we reach that nadir of our existence. That point that is so low, that looking up is too daunting, so we keep our gaze firmly fixed on the ground before us hoping for a sign as to when it will welcome us home. Today is not that day.]

The Silent Statement

My thoughts are often as complicated to grasp as my writing is to read. I sometimes read through some of my older posts and wonder how anyone could have gotten the point when I struggle to follow the thought process myself. I used to relate it all much more simplistically in the past. It was relatable, not just to me, but to others that it resonated with. It’s not so easy to relate anymore. I find myself slowly receding into silence again. It’s like I’ve come full circle without having completed the journey. The contradiction glares at me while I try to make sense of it all.

Silence often says more than any vocal statement we make. It’s the language of both lies and compassion. For me, it’s the language of understanding. When I’m inclined to believe that my perspective will most likely be misunderstood or unappreciated, I tend towards silence. It’s my restraint and my statement. It restrains me from verbalising much that will be found offensive, often because of the harsh truth it contains given my poor bedside manner, and it’s my statement because I choose not to engage about something that I believe will not have a meaningful outcome. That’s how I use silence to make my statement.

Unfortunately there are too many that use it for very different reasons, the most common of which is to avoid being perceived unfavourably. In those moments when the truth is needed for closure, to understand the reasons for betrayal, or to know why the good we put forward was reciprocated with dishonesty or insincerity, silence cuts sharper and deeper than any harsh truths that could have been offered. In those moments the silent one tries desperately to hide their shame while maintaining a facade of arrogance or feigned hurt. Silence, in moments like those, is employed for no reason but to save the betrayer from having to share the truth of their betrayal.

I think it gets worse when we hold the key to justice but deny the rights of the victims when we choose not to get involved because of the potential repercussions for us. At times when world powers abstain from voting or acting against rogue nations or human scum in order to retain political alliances, their silence does to the victims of those oppressors what the silence of a lover does to their no-longer-beloved. The impact is the same, it’s only the scale that differs.

Every betrayal destroys a soul, and every soul holds within it an entire world. Each betrayal forces a reinvention of that soul, and each reinvention creates a more brittle soul. Brittle is not necessarily weak. It simply becomes more unpredictable as it gets closer to its limit. Fortunately for most, that limit is significantly more than most because of the reinventions. But when it is reached, the brittle snap that ensues leaves a wake of destruction that can rarely be understood.

But there’s a more important point I wanted to make about how we use silence for selfish purposes. Perhaps my use of silence is not as noble as I’d like to believe it is. Perhaps just writing this post will provide insights that will disarm me at important moments when others will correctly interpret my silence and take the offence I was hoping to spare them instead. Perhaps there will be none of that because as we’ve seen so often, a shared sin is often overlooked because the collective guilt pacifies our conscience anyway.

I think we all use silence in this way. I think the silence we maintain at times when we should be outspoken or brutally honest reflects our priorities in that moment. If speaking out will result in an increase of clutter or responsibility beyond what we currently wish to bear, then silence becomes the obvious choice.

Another incomplete thought process. I know there is a truth in there somewhere…but like life, the essence of it eludes me.

The virtual reality of life

There is no line between virtuality and reality. Any line that you thought existed was simply a deception of your own mind. Online platforms give us the ability to escape our real lives under the guise of anonymity to the point where we identify ourselves as a url and assume that that is sufficient to justify our deceptive nature.

Living a lie, be it online or in real life, is still living a lie. At no point is it acceptable to live by differing standards of morality because doing so lays the foundation of insincerity that will contaminate the flesh and blood relationships that you have. It feeds the same morbid self-indulgence that drives us to deceive those we’ve allowed into our personal space. If your online profile is vastly different from your real life behaviour, you’re fooling someone, and in all likelihood, that someone may very well be yourself included.

People that are trusting are dismissed as gullible, while people that are insincere are accepted as normal. This is truly a case of us focusing so closely on the form that we miss the essence of what we’re doing. Escapism is entirely possible without misleading others. It’s easy to cry victim when we’ve been misled, but almost impossible to see our own deception for what it is simply because we’re looking to defend our actions and explain the context rather than appreciating that hiding behind masks is as detrimental online as it is in real life. 

If you still believe that it is justifiable to hide behind masks online, then be clear about one simple truth that seems to elude many. Sincerity dictates that you are always clear about what is fictional about you and what is real. Whether this is online or not. Sincerity doesn’t come with qualifiers or disclaimers, nor does honesty. Any actions that I have recently defended or objected to online I will do so again, despite growing evidence that I may have been wrong. 

In a world of spin doctors and politicians, and masses that despise them but aspire to operate like them, I choose to be the naive idiot that sits with egg on his face because others were more adept at seeing the reality of deception rather than trusting others the way they yearn to be trusted. For every single time that I assume the worst or treat with unfounded suspicion the actions of others, I warrant, justify, and invite the same for myself. 

I may be cynically jaded about life, and entirely sceptical about people, but I will never use my life’s struggles to justify the blatant manipulation of others under the context of “they should’ve known better cos everyone else does it as well.” Regardless of how accurate or inaccurate my observations may be of others, who I am relative to how I live will always remain a constant, either on equal footing that leads to wholesomeness of purpose, or on unequal footing that will lead to chaos in my soul.