Petty Little Liars

Do you know the anime trope where a character will uncover significant information about another individual, and keep that information secret so as not to hurt that person?  This happens in anime time after time, including in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, which I’m now watching via Hulu.  Spoilers begin here.  In episode 22, Winry discovers that Scar killed her parents.  Spoilers end here.  The Elric brothers withheld this information from their childhood friend, before it blew up in everyones’ faces.  In other words, they lied, leading to somewhat expected consequences.

The dramatic consequences of hiding the truth

While it’s a discussion for another day whether or not hiding something from someone is equivalent to a bold-faced lie, I think we can all agree that lying isn’t just common to anime; people are lying to us constantly.  The worst offenders of all may be the teenagers one encounters on the Internet.  In a time of self-discovery, many teens take it further by creating a new self.  I once encountered a young man who tried to convince me that he was some sort of warrior monk; of course, little did he know that just a month prior, he told me he used to work at Funimation.

Winry has difficulty dealing with the unveiled truth

My knee-jerk reaction when I’m being lied to is to first tell the person they’re a liar and explain exactly in what ways, and then to unleash a tirade of “grow up” and “get some character” smack upon him or her.  I have a friend who hates being lied to more than anything, and loves to bring down her “hammer,” as I call it, on offenders.

But isn’t getting angry and “catching someone in their game” a sign of immaturity, just as the lying itself is immature?  At the very least, it’s a sign of spiritual immaturity.  Do you know the Gospel story of the woman at the well (John 4:1-42)?  Jesus speaks with a woman getting water.  First of all, she is shocked that Jesus would talk to her, a Samaritan woman, when they were shunned by Jews during that time.  She is surprised further when Jesus mentions a secret from her past – the number of husbands she has had.  But Jesus, God in flesh, doesn’t become angry that the woman is trying to withhold information from him (even when she tries to change the subject).  He takes the opportunity to compassionately discuss the scriptures.

Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of those lying to us.  Not only are they immature, almost by definition via their age, but their lives might be marred by circumstances we know nothing about.  Who’s to say the offender wasn’t recently beaten by an abusive parent, or simply locked out emotionally by family, fellow students and society in general?  The lying might not seem so important in context of the greater picture, which we rarely know anything about.

Instead of accusing Ed, Winry focuses on what's important

We’re all bound to encounter liars, through the Internet or in “real life,” on maybe a daily basis.  These opportunities provide us with choices: we can be human and let the liar have it, or we can be superhuman and offer compassion and our maturity.  How will you respond?

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
– Jeremiah, Lamentations 3:22

“The worst lies are the lies we tell ourselves.  We live in denial of what we do, even what we think.  We do this because we’re afraid.  We fear we will not find love, and when we find it we fear we’ll lose it.  We fear that if we do not have love we will be unhappy.”
– Richard Bach

9 thoughts on “Petty Little Liars

  1. Generally speaking, it’s hard for me to believe anything I see off the bat unless I’m proven with solid proof. It’s especially the case for things on the internet, as anonymity allows people to act however they want, assume whatever identity they seem fit.

    In the case for me, I generally split lies between two kinds: the good ones and the bad ones. Of course, it’s better not to lie at all, but there comes a time where you have to lie. The scenario is a little difficult to imagine at times (especially when it doesn’t happen regularly), but it does happen at times!

  2. Thanks for the comments, Netto! They’re always insightful!

    You know, I think you make a really good point about lying. I think most people would agree with you. For most things in life, there’s a gray area – lies are bad, for instance, but maybe not always? Certainly in an over-the-top case where you could save a life by lying, common sense dictates that lying is okay.

    Or is it?

    I’m really not sure at all about this question, because I have a conflict between the idea of character and hypocrisy.

    I will say this. I’m against lying to spare others’ feelings. I’m against hiding things so that others won’t be hurt. I’m anti-little white lies. There’s a time and place for revealing the truth, to be sure, but I believe the truth trumps hurt emotions. That’s not to say that I’m 100% truthful, because I know I’m not, but that’s more of a function of imperfect character than of my beliefs.

    1. Haha well, I think this posted just after the series finishes its run. Coincidentally enough, I’m rewatching FMAB right now. And also of note—it took me EIGHT YEARS to complete FMAB. I started then but didn’t finish until a couple months ago! 😮

        1. Ohhhh haha, right over my head! I’m pretty sure my wife was watching that show at the time. I used to love giving articles titles that mirrored those from tv shows, movies, or songs.

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