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.
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.
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 (04:1-42&version=NIV">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.
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