By: SKIP BANDELE
Skip Bandele moved to the Algarve 10 years ago and has been with The Resident since 2003. His writing reflects views and opinions formed while living in Africa, Germany and England as well as Portugal.
HAVE YOU ever told a lie? No? Well, that’s a porky to start off with, if a latest survey is to be believed.
Apparently, we all fib all the time to the tune of an average of four times a day. Men lie more frequently than women, although the latter are better at it.
In fact, anyone who claims to be always telling the truth is the biggest liar around.
Nothing’s wrong, I’m fine; nice to see you; I haven’t got any cash on me; I’ll give you a ring; sorry I missed your call; we’ll have to meet up soon and I’m on my way are eight of the most common untruths we tell each other.
Researchers also found that the majority of fibs are only white lies intended to spare feelings rather than cause upset, the recipients of which are normally parents, partners and work colleagues.
The question then arises, assuming that lying is wrong per se, about whether we can differentiate between outright stupid lies, malicious slander and ‘white’ or sweet little lies.
Some children and teenagers make up things, often stubbornly insisting that they have not done something such as going down to the pub or smoking in their room when it is painfully obvious to anyone with only half a sense of smell that the exact opposite is true.
Such behaviour borders on the pathological and, to my mind, represents a plea to be found out on the way to resolving some more deep-seated problems, a treatable condition which must be classified outside the perimeters of this discourse.
Devious lies calculated not to be discovered, on the other hand, are risky but ultimately rewarding to their author if carried through undetected.
I hated my last two years at school prior to university. The subjects that were forced upon me were only slightly less odious than the behaviour of my classmates.
As a result, I spent numerous wonderful days at home having lied both to my teachers and my working parents.
No-one suffered apart from me.
The realisation that you can fool all of the people some of the time not having best-served some chapters of my future life.
White lies are a completely different kettle of fish altogether.
Their origin lies – excuse the pun – in laziness, wanting to avoid a protracted discussion or the genuine desire of not intending to hurt someone we care about.
Phrases such as of course I love you, your bum doesn’t look big in that or this tastes delicious just roll off the tongue as daily necessities facilitating a harmonious existence.
These small, generally harmless falsehoods oil the wheels of almost all human relationships.
Brutal honesty only causes unnecessary havoc and pain as the following example illustrates.
On a new game show hosted by Jerry Springer on Sky One called Nothing But The Truth, contestants are hooked up to a lie detector and proceed to reveal all in an attempt to claim the jackpot.
One poor, misguided creature confessed to having cheated on his wife during an affair as well as having visited a prostitute during his stag night.
Needless to say divorce must be imminent while the 75,000 US dollar windfall will come in handy in covering the costs.
Honestly, as much as anyone values the truth, there are certain things you just cannot admit to.
Answering yes to any question such as do you still have romantic feelings for your ex simply invites pandemonium while causing pain you do not want someone else to feel.
A straight forward “no” vis-à-vis touchy subjects has nothing to do with cowardliness or issue-avoidance, and everything to do with displaying compassion and common sense.
If you do want to upset or hurt someone deliberately out of spitefulness, downright meanness or for personal gain, the truth learned in confidence can be as effective as nasty, invented lies.
However, in either case be warned as to the enemies you may make.
Poison spread can usually be traced back to its source and returned with interest if not repaid with physical violence.
We can also lie to ourselves, of course, something which is mostly involuntary.
Unpaid bills and tax demands apart, our perceptions and social conditioning can genuinely fool our senses.
Take a bottle of wine which tastes better the more expensive it is.
Test-based research shows that higher prices are more likely to trigger the part of the brain that registers pleasure.
Drinkers were given two identical glasses of wine but told they were different and priced at seven and 60 euros.
Brain activity of the test subjects registered a much greater pleasure response when tasting the supposedly costly wine while remaining neutral once the price information was removed.
To my mind, the biggest liars have always been politicians and other public figures whose integrity should be above question.
Here in Portugal, our own Prime Minister José Sócrates waltzed to victory on the back of a socialist agenda at the last elections promising to right the wrongs that the previous administration had wrought upon the common people.
Within a short period of time, his populist rhetoric has been exposed as mere fiction.
An increased tax burden, high inflation, record unemployment, a stagnating economy and rocketing staple food prices (both milk and bread up 15 per cent this month) is punishing those that carried him into office.
It takes a whole bucket-full of foolhardiness to tell porkies big-time in public in an age of constant electronic media vigilance.
Portugal and Britain are no saints in this department but the undisputed champion of the bare-faced, honeyed lie remains America.
Memorable is Bill Clinton’s sincere I did not have sexual relations with that woman…Miss Lewinsky or more recently, Republican ex-presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s assertion that his father marched with Martin Luther King.
Both statements proved to be entirely untrue.
If you must lie, make sure you cannot be exposed and only do so if you are trying to spare someone’s feelings – or your own.