Sunday, February 24, 2013

Truth and lies

If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you know that honestly and doing the right thing are common themes. They are things I ponder more than occasionally.

I have never served on a jury, and I hope I never have to. Why? Because other than with my own child, I am not very good at discerning the truth. For the most part it is because I am extremely honest (and open, for that matter), and I tend to think/hope that everyone else is too. For me that means that almost every time someone lies or is telling a half-truth, either I refuse to believe said person is lying or I am genuinely surprised that that person is lying. So how I am supposed to determine someone's guilt or innocence?

Let's say Man A said that Man B shot Man A in cold blood/in an attempt to kill. Man B said the shooting was in self-defense. Someone is lying, and I doubt I would be able to figure it out. And what bothers me even more is what if I am wrong? You can say that you make your decision based on the evidence presented, but lawyers usually know the right questions to ask. They often spin things. People have been wrongly convicted, and guilty people have been set free. I don't want the weight of that on my shoulders.

A few weeks ago double amputee/Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend in the house bathroom, insisting he thought she was an intruder. The prosecution said it was premeditated, that he knew it was she. So what is the real story? Based on the little I have read, even if it was accidental, I have a problem with a man getting out of bed because he thinks an intruder is in the bathroom but does not check to see that the person whom he is sharing a bed with is there/okay. If nothing else, what he did gives the gun-control (anti-gun) crowd more ammunition, no pun intended. If he did not have a gun, he certainly could not have killed his girlfriend.

Regardless, it is not up to me to decide his guilt or innocence. But don't many of us have to ferret out the truth most days? Was your spouse really stuck in traffic and therefore could not go to the bank before it closed? Did the copier at work randomly die without anyone's causing it? Was your kid truly one of the few who was not actually talking when everyone else supposedly was? Did your buddy really not get your text or email?

I do lunch duty once or twice a week, and I sub a handful of times a month. On a typical day, several conflicts are brought to my attention. They often go like this:
Sally: Ms. M., Lucy called me a jerk.
Lucy: No, I didn't. She is lying.

Or like this:
Mike: Ms. M., Billy just pushed me on purpose.
Billy: No, I didn't. It was an accident. We were just playing.

Even though I see these kids often, I am lousy at figuring it out who is lying. And even if several kids vouch for Mike or Sally, because Lucy and Billy are often so convincing and sincere, I don't know whom to believe. [Typically, I tell the kids that they should not lie, I throw in God when I can, and I let them go on their way, separating them as necessary. I don't punish them because I did not see what really happened.] Yep, it is pretty obvious why I should not be on a jury.

I wish I could tell when people lie to me. I suppose I should be grateful that when my kid tries to keep something from me or is not truthful, I can pretty much tell, and I ultimately get it out of her. As for the rest of the world? I guess I will have to try to accept that people are just going to lie, as much as it bothers me, and particularly when it directly affects me or a decision I will have to make. But in the meantime, I would love to read about how you determine when someone is lying and/or how you get the truth out of people. Now please don't lie to me!

4 comments:

bluzdude said...

I can’t help you with your classroom kids, but perhaps in a jury situation. Half the battle is in knowing that someone is lying. From there, you just have to ferret out which one it is.

What does the evidence say? Which story makes the most sense? Does the story ring true? Also, you can lean on some of the other jury members and see how they interpret the stories.

It’s unfortunate that we weren’t made with built-in lie detectors. But I hope you never lose your clear-hearted tendency to want to believe the best about people.

LaLa said...

Never been on a jury either. You can usually tell when someone is lying. Their eyes can betray them. Not sure about Pistorius. What you said sounds logical. Don't know about the kids either. Lying is pretty normal in kids. Doesn't mean it is not sad. But knowing parents today if you punish a kid on hearsay you will get in trouble. Parents never think their kids do any wrong. Also troubling. I'm with Bluzdude. Don't stop believing the best in people because there are still good ones out there. Society today is guilty until proven innocent. Sad.

Facie said...

LaLa: Yeah, the direct eye contact works with my kid and sometimes with others, but there are people who are so good at lying, I simply cannot figure it out.

And you are right about punishing kids. I hear parents all too often say that their kid may not be perfect but he did not or would not do X. Generally, I try to keep my mouth shut. I was agreeing with teacher a week or so ago that it would be great if there were cameras in the classrooms, with sound, so parents could see and hear exactly what their kids are doing. Plus it would force the teachers to step up their game. A win-win, I say.

Facie said...

Bluz: Thanks for your comment "I hope you never lose your clear-hearted tendency to want to believe the best about people," (and you to, LaLa!). I know I am a little naive, but too many people are written off and never believed.

As for lying, that is my problem: I am losing that battle because I cannot tell, typically, when someone is lying! But your suggestions make sense. :-)