By Joe Rector

At some point in this country’s existence, things turned upside down. Black became white, up became down, and lies became alternative truths. The last one listed is something with which all of us have lived and in which we have participated during our lifetimes.

Most of us grew up in households where lying was a major offense by a child. Moms and dads taught us to tell the truth at all times. Some children learned that the road to hell was paved with lies by young folks. In short, we were scared to death to tell a lie and shivered with fear if we were caught doing so.

If a child told a whopper and then was caught by his parents, the punishments were horrific. Sometimes, a parent would reward a lie by administering a spanking. The entire time that the child ran in a circle to avoid the swats to his fanny, he was regretting the way he distorted the truth. The pain from the spanking paled in comparison to the little one’s embarrassment over having lied or having lost his parent’s trust.

On some occasions, moms decided to clean up the lying mouths of their offspring. They marched the offenders to the bathroom and stationed them by the sink. Washrags were soaked with water, and then Dial soap was lathered to the surfaces. With rags filled with suds, moms demanded their children to open their mouths, and they proceeded to wash teeth, gums, and tongues in symbolic gestures of removing the untruths from the mouths of babes. The after-taste often was enough to set tiny stomachs on edge to the point of throwing up. It also stopped the lying, at least until the memory of the terrible taste subsided.

Another punishment for being less than truthful was grounding. A convicted liar was confined to his room or to the house for an extended period of time. During that entire time of imprisonment, tensions ran high; children were angry for being stuck at home without friends, television, radio, or computers; parents were miserable as they endured the whining and fit throwing by their children. The hope was that young people would think twice before lying so that thety could return to their lives and spare parents of any more agony.

Perhaps the worst punishment for lying was the parental lecture. A guilty child was summoned before his parents and quizzed about his reasons for lying. After a half dozen statements of “I don’t know,” mom and dad tag-teamed and talked to the young person. Preaching might have been a better term for what took place, and invariably, at some point in this long-winded speech came the most dreaded line of all: “We are disappointed in you.” The offender had no comeback for it, and parents never let him know when and if the disappointment ended. A quick beating was preferable to the lecture because although it hurt, the whole matter was over and done in short order.

Most of us learned our lessons about lying, not that we stopped doing it, but we did a better job of not getting caught. However, some folks never have gotten the hang of lying. They continue to tell outrageous tales and profess that those fabrications are true.

Folks in the government are most proficient in lying. Politicians peddle loads of them to constituents without blinking an eye. The most infuriating thing is they think all of us believe the lies they tell. The truth is that some of us actually have working minds that have built-in “BS” detectors; we recognize when a person is shoveling loads of it in an attempt to pervert the truth.

Lying sometimes is acceptable, such as when doing so spares another’s feelings. The majority of the time, however, fibs aren’t necessary. The truth serves us better in the long run. Everyone, especially our leaders, should work to end the intentionally false statements that are presented as gospel. It’s just not worthwhile in the long run.