Sam Harris states in his book “Lying” that elected officials, district attorneys, CEO’s and investment bankers do lie to the public. We are all affected by these lies but are often removed from personal harm. When lies come from our own parents, the pain lasts a long time.
In my case the lie started before 1900, when a Welsh pit boss in the Pennsylvania coal mines told my paternal grandfather that his name was too hard to spell or pronounce, and on the spot baptized him with an American substitute. The original name was Lithuanian, but I never knew that until about 85 years later.
My dad never obtained a birth certificate or passport. His Social Security name was the new one, as he preferred that false name over the obvious ethnic sound of his Lithuanian forebears. He used to instruct his relatives to use the new name, but the grandparents’ grave stone still showed the orignial name and dates.
I only discovered the his middle name to be false when I got my birth certificate and found that Christopher was not his middle name, but Chuster. The lies of the family tree not only makes medical matters harder to uncover, but makes the child distrust the parent. It is one thing to lie about the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus, but quite another to lie to a child as to who he or she is.
Some truths told to a child can help or disappoint, but lies in this case would have been counter productive.
I was told in high school that I had the brains to be a doctor. Unfortunately I had no money for that training. It did buoy me up through challenges later in life and being self confident in my own mind never gave up on my self and got a Masters’ at age 58.
One of my classmates was informed by this same teacher that he was not college material so better to settle for something less arduous.
This set the young man off on a serious path to higher education and as a result of showing his teacher to be wrong, went on to hold an engineering degree.
What if we both had been told little white lies? What if I had been dsiscouraged to ever keep going to school through marriage and four children, living on welfare and being homeless? I might have persevered anyway since I loved learning, but may have been really depressed at the obstacles in my way.
What if my classmate had simply been ignored and had no one to tell him what his future would not be? He may have coasted through high school and gotten a job in the mills but never a career.
Lies, truths, and white lies bring us into a web that may or may not catch us.