February 14, 2012

What would happen if we told the truth?

Sunday night I didn't watch the Grammy awards. I didn't care what women were wearing on the red carpet, I was already tired of hearing about the tragic death of Whitney Huston, and I was unfamiliar with all the nominees anyway. Instead I caught the movie City Island. I had seen it once before and I thought it was kind of quirky and a bit weird.  But I like Andy Garcia, so I made a cup of tea and settled in to watch this film which is about the totally dysfunctional Rizzo family who live in the Bronx on City Island.  Garcia's character, Vince, is a prison guard who discovers Tony, the son he abandoned as a baby before he met his wife, is now an inmate.  Vince arranges for Tony's release under his protection  and he takes him home keeping Tony's true identity a secret, even from Tony.  But that is not the only deception occurring in this family. Vince is secretly taking acting lessons but telling his wife he goes out to play poker, the daughter is hiding the fact that she got suspended from college and is now working as a stripper, Vince's younger son has an inordinate attraction to extremely obese women and all the Rizzo's are sneaking cigarettes. Vince's wife Joyce seems to be the only one not hiding a deep secret, but thinking that Vince is cheating on her she sets out to seduce Tony. Even Vince's acting partner has a big secret she's hiding. The only one who recognises these deceptions is Tony and although he doesn't know Vince is his father, he does know that there is more to their relationship than is being told him. What stood out in the film for me is the power of lies. Because all in this family were afraid of the truth, one lie built upon another and nearly tore the family apart. 

I think lying is probably one of the most frequently committed sins. Why? Because it is an easy one to rationalize away.  Think about this, how many husbands, when his wife asks if she looks fat in a dress, is going to say "Sure honey, you do"?  In one of my favorite TV shows, House, Dr. House is fond of letting people know "everybody lies," and I believe it.  It is sometimes so much easier to tell a lie than to have to deal with telling someone the truth. And we often don't even realise we are doing it.  I'm not talking about big lies here.  For example, one of my favorite lies is when a telemarketer calls and asks for me.  I tell them "she's not home right now."  Pretty innocent wouldn't you say?  I don't like confrontation and instead of dealing with somone trying to get me to donate to the Police retirement fund (my husband is a retired cop and his retirement comes from the state not some fund) I just pretend I am not home.  Or if  a friend calls and asks me to go out and not really wanting to I'll say that I am busy.  What's a little lie?  No one gets hurt.

The Rizzo family lied thinking they were protecting the others in their family because the truth might hurt them. But they also lied because they were afraid of the truth.  What would have happened if they told the truth from the beginning?  Without spoiling the film for those who didn't see it, the end answers that question. It's a question I need to ask myself whenever I am tempted to tell a lie, or to withold the truth.  What would happen? Yes, perhaps someone will get hurt but maybe people would respect me for telling the truth. I think I lie because of fear, fear of what people might say, or do, or think, fear that someone will be angry with me.  I have discovered that lies really get me nowhere and the one they hurt most is me.

Jesus said "the truth will set you free."(Jn 8:32)  When I lie I am held bound by my lies and I often have to add to the lie to keep the deception going.  Each lie makes it easier to tell the next lie and pretty soon I even begin to believe my own lies.  Part of being a Christian is to believe in the Truth.  That means coming to terms with where I stand with regard to the Truth.  It may not win me friends, it may not be easy, but in the end, I think it will make me a better person.

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