O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive!
When I was a very young mother, I read often to my first son, Thing 1, who is almost a senior in high school now. I still call him Thing 1 here on my blog because should colleges go looking for him online, they won’t find him by name here. Just by admitting that, am I practicing the art of deception? I suppose so, but I’m trying to let him establish his own cyber DNA and tell his own stories, so that’s that. “Deception” only comes into play when we are intending to get away with something. Seeing as how my son is not a horrible person, and has honestly worked hard academically, I’m just trying to let him have his own life.
I used to read to him from a collection of Winnie-the-Pooh books. The first story “In Which We Are Introduced to Winnie-the-Pooh and Some Bees, and the Stories Begin” actually covers deception, so we know what kind of characters Winnie and Christopher are.
In that story, Pooh hears bees while on a walk. Instinctively, he figures that buzzing means bees and bees mean honey. Pooh wants honey (as usual). The problem is that the beehive is perched high up in a tree. Pooh has no respect for the bees. He says right from the start, “the only reason for being a bee that I know is making honey … And the only reason for making honey is so as I can eat it.”
Immediately, we get the sense that Pooh Bear is all about Pooh Bear, and that’s just that. He’s of a single focus, a one-track bear, and he doesn’t really sweat the details of a) exploiting the supply of his desire and b) allowing that bees exist for purposes other than sating his desires.
Pooh goes after the honey unsuccessfully. He falls out of a tree, he lands in a “gorse” bush with prickers in his backside and he’s almost out of gas, but he’s still a strong enough bear to want what he wants, gorse bush or no gorse bush. Then he thinks of Christopher Robin. (Who knew that CR was Pooh’s chump?) Pooh devises a plan, which requires a blue balloon to match the sky so that the bees won’t notice it, because y’know, bees are stupid, according to Pooh.
Christopher being smart, asked Pooh about the bees noticing Pooh beneath the balloon.
“You can never tell with bees,” said Pooh. So he considered a bit more and then said, “I shall try to look like a small black cloud. That will deceive them.” Pooh decides to roll in the mud, to look more like a black cloud. In order to deceive the bees. So he can get his honey. Because it’s all about him.
So as the story goes on, Pooh gets the balloon to lift him to the hive and he shouts down an inquiry to Christopher Robin, “What do I look like?”
Christopher Robin said, “You look like a Bear holding on to a balloon.”
“Not, not like a small black cloud in a blue sky?” Pooh asked.
“Not very much,” said Christopher.
Now hold your horses. Before you start saying that I’m comparing Pooh’s mud bath with fallen NAACP-Spokane’s embattled Rachel Dolezal and her repeated appearances since her NAACP transracial (wow, spellcheck did not correct that) scandal broke, as she masqueraded as a black woman (thus perpetuating the stereotype) I want you to take a breath.
Just let me say this: you’re absolutely right.
But this isn’t even the part in the story where Christopher Robin was implicated. Later on, Pooh asks Christopher to fetch an umbrella and say, “Tut-tut, it looks like rain…” (Now I’m not sure of the motive for lying about the rain…) and Pooh continued, “If you did that, it would help the deception which we are practising on these bees.” Sadly, Christopher indulged.
As the rest of the story goes, it turns out it was the wrong sort of bees who were at the hive and Pooh had no way to get down unless he let go of the balloon. Christopher ended up shooting the balloon with his pop gun and Pooh came down, aggressively and landed in a bit of pain. Then Pooh’s arms were stuck in “hanging from a balloon in the sky” pose for a week. The moral of the story: don’t practice deception. Tell the truth. Or you will fall on your ass and your arms will get stuck. I think my sons mostly got the point. No one is perfect, but they know that telling the truth means a lot less trouble than lying.
So at least Winnie was honest about being deceptive. At least he was clear in his intentions: to get honey for himself. At least he didn’t continue a narrative in which he didn’t correct other peoples’ mischaracterizations and misidentifications of him. He didn’t practice the art of syntax and semantic masturbation. He didn’t keep rolling in the mud to look like a black cloud to deceive bees. He didn’t lie and call Christopher Robin his ‘dad.’
Lies: we have direct falsehoods and they suck. We have omitting truths (aka “sins of omission”) which has grades of harm, depending on range and depth of the omission — “No one ever asked me if I put the envelope in the mail to pay my taxes four years in a row” is a pretty big sin of omission. Then there’s “energetic” and “intention” misrepresentations based on syntax and semantics (make sure your voice raises by the end of this sentence): a tacit understanding that everyone believes the same thing? That’s akin to “well, she didn’t ask me outright if I slept with that woman repeatedly while we were married…” — that’s bullshit that people like to hide behind because they don’t have the guts to come out and express themselves in the actual inauthentic persona they’re trying to portray.
Because I’m a word freak, I’m often open to interpretations and nuances and intentions. That said, when we use words commonly understood as being quite clear in their definition and traditional interpretation, you better be singing from the same sheet of music as everyone else is. A contract isn’t a nice idea, it’s a binding agreement. Skilled liars will make it so hard for the rest of us: in that we have to ask such pointed questions (as in the Clinton testimony during the Lewinsky scandal) that it’s work because they are deft manipulators and compartmentalizers.
Regarding the black older man Dolezal marched and paraded with and called him her “father” or “dad” she used the argument so many like to use, “Anyone can be a father; not everyone can be a ‘dad'” and other embarrassing concepts like that. We all know what we really mean, and you do too, Rachel, so … just cut the shit.
Words mean things, they have specific definitions. If you don’t think words really mean things; that it’s all “energy” and “intention,” peeps, then stop using them. Just stop. Intentionally obscuring the definition of the word, in order to suit your own “energetic” or “intentional”
means agenda is plain crap and you need to get a grip.
I’m just going to come out with it: liars are weak. They are fearful. They practice duplicity or let you ride on a wave of naivety because you’re a good person. You believe what people tell you. You believe your understanding of a widely used word, say, “cheat” is the same understanding that any person would have. Unless you’re talking to a cheater, and then all bets are off.
It’s like when Bill Clinton famously TESTIFIED, “It all depends on what your interpretation of ‘is’ is.”
Look, we’re not idiots. Don’t jack with us.
Yet, we look away from Clinton’s testimony, now with hazy memories and perhaps softer hearts — not because we decide to let bygones be bygones, but because we realize that people, everywhere, are all a little crazy and that when your hand is in the cookie jar, you better have a) a really good reason; b) permission from mom; c) a great story to tell; or d) an admission and request for mercy. Just for the record, none of those things happened from Clinton and it’s unlikely they will happen with fallen NBC anchor Brian Williams who “misremembered” (which I didn’t know was a word until last winter) nor will they happen with Dolezal. She sits proudly and determinedly, in her stew of semantics, omissions, energetic intentions, emotional nuances and … oh yes, complete lies.
Doleful Doleful Doleful (ha! spellcheck!) Dolezal interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer on the Today show blew my mind:
She smiles and laughs at the interview. Like she just won a patent trial against Samsung. Lauer doesn’t bat an eye. She’s all “ha ha… I’m smug … it all depends on what your definition of ‘definition‘ is…”
Who knows why anyone does anything anymore. Anyway…
Around 46 seconds into the interview, Lauer’s voice starts to shake. His mouth tightens. I’ve been there — it’s likely starting to go numb because all the blood is draining to pump his heart to keep his legs where they are so he doesn’t leap and kill her for her attitude. It’s as though he can’t believe he has to say the words he’s having to say. He sounds as though he’s ready to come unhinged and scream at her, “ARE YOU FREAKING CRAZY?! DO YOU EXPECT US TO BELIEVE YOU?!”
At 4:50, he asks her SPECIFICALLY about blackface. In her current form, she decried the practice.
Yesterday morning, I wondered, why am I so bothered about this? None of this has anything to do with me and it likely never will. It bothers me because blackface is so completely horrible and racist and offensive and yet she denies she perpetuates it — all of it — because she gets to say (after she probably paid a PR hack a few thousand dollars), “I identify as black.”
Before Dolezal’s parents outed her as being duplicitous (I don’t even want to KNOW what that relationship is all about), it never would have occurred to someone to doubt another person’s racial integrity these days; we’re supposed to be working on being “color blind.” The NAACP has had white officers before. Its founders include white people. So, when I think of Rachel Dolezal in 2015, I have to ask: why would a member of the press need to do that? And why would anyone lie about it? The whole thing baffles.
Her story is just jarring for me. It’s like my “Earth Wind & Fire” station on Pandora. I’m bopping and jamming to “September,” and then “Brick House” and then “Play that Funky Music” and then a song by The Archies comes on. What the what…?
I was reading social media comments about this and someone, who is black, put it very clearly: “you can identify WITH blacks, but not AS black because you are NOT.” Semantics? No. I get to defer to that man, and any other African American because this issue, while it deeply offends me, is not about perpetuating a lifestyle, but only in the easy, good parts. Dolezal gets to choose her dad now; she got to adopt one of her sons who was first her adopted brother by her parents, and she gets to darken her skin and not understand the questions and skirt the facts when intelligent people confront her with intelligent questions.
She should run for president.
I’m left-handed. I don’t identify as right handed. I don’t identify with right handed people; I am forced to because the world is geared toward right handed people, but that doesn’t mean I AM giving up my left-handedness.
I realize my dexterity comparison is faint, that it’s weak, but it’s all I got. I also know that I have no dog in this race. That I’m a white woman who doesn’t have one clue about what it’s like to be any other ethnicity. I haven’t bothered to try; that would be false of me. That would be lying. I have compassion for all races and all people, but I don’t need to fake being anyone other than myself because as I said in my post about Caitlin (nee Bruce) Jenner, being who I am is hard enough as it is.
I grew up with people who lied, who bent the truth and who outright set out to deny, deceive, and deflect in order to keep only a certain type, the “no one gets hurt by my choices” light shining on them, which usually is another self-deception and a complete untruth. Anytime you lie, you are hiding who you are from people. That hiding grows and becomes part of your fabric. If your story is based on a lie, then you lie all the more. Whatever the impetus: fear, shame, arrogance, narcissism, smugness, assholicry, you are slowly shredding away at the relationships you’ve formed with people who rely on you to be the person you are. They begin to not trust you. Your reputation follows you. You have to work hard to regain trust.
I have worked hard in my adult life to be real. To separate myself from those who continue to practice duplicity, and I won’t willingly partake in anything in which deception is exercised. I can’t; bending truth is in direct conflict with my sense of who I am. My yoga practice requires truth. My personal philosophy demands it. My cousin once called me “the troubadour of truth” and I wear the mantle proudly. The truth, while it might be inconvenient, engenders a clear conscience, which is so much easier to sleep on.