Teens Learn Early on That Lying is the Key to Surviving

ONLY BAD GUYS TELL THE TRUTHBy Hazel TesoroEarning someone's trust is one of the hardest things to work for in life, but in the end it's definitely worth it.Though nowadays, it isn't at all about trust or honesty or anything pretty for that matter, not that it ever really was in the first place. But it seems that the longer we human begins exist, the greater the amount of lying -- I prefer to call it b.s. ing -- becomes.The theme of America today is money and power (if money doesn't already make us feel powerful), and I have met quite a few who would hurt their own mothers in the worst way possible for those.Why do we find the need to lie? There are all kinds of reasons, some maybe for a better cause than most -- like to save someone we care about from getting hurt. But we also do it to protect ourselves, which most of the time means we are trying to get away with something.We also b.s. to get ourselves to higher places, to look (or sound) better than others, to make money, to fool people, to manipulate the systems -- because in certain ways they make it so that we have to lie in order to survive. The people upstairs are the master con artists of them all. Hey, what can I say -- we learn from the best. Sometimes we are even brought up to be pathological liars who do it so much that we ourselves believe the crap that comes out of our mouths.As a kid growing up in the foster care system, I always wound up in trouble because I had a habit of blurting out my real thoughts about the staff and the other kids. People who ran the facility would consider booting me out, except that I was one kid who could finish the program.Then a friend who knew the system well gave me some advice: "You don't have to mean it or anything, but you gotta act like you do. Just do this -- every time you see one of them, paste a smile on your face and say 'hi.' Afterwards, you can cuss about them all you want, just not in front of anyone. You'll see, you won't be getting into so much trouble any more if you just play the game."In other, fewer words, I had to be a b.s.er.Even in trying to get a job, you have to lie. Employers claim they're looking for an honest person who works hard, but that's only half the truth. At a job interview, it's like we are forced to b.s., to multiply our skill, personality and experience by at least three. And that crap they like to put on applications about convictions, they say it doesn't disqualify you. Is that the truth? I don't think so.To tell the truth, I don't really expect any of us Americans to be honest anyway. I mean look who we got as our president, good old Bill Clinton. He's the guy we chose to look up, to and what is he? Nothing but a proven liar. I mean, yeah, he can't be perfect, he's human like all of us and he's made a few mistakes, but why not be the example and just bust out with the truth in the first place?All liars get caught sometime, you know. Why must we go through these pointless circles that we could skip if we were just honest with each other? Why? I'll tell you why. Because, and I quote, "We can't handle the truth."All of a sudden in this country, when you tell the truth you're the bad guy.WHEN LYING IS A SURVIVAL SKILLBy Sayyadina ThomasIs it wrong to sleep with another woman when you already have a wife? Is it illegal? Is it unconstitutional? No.What is Bill Clinton really getting impeached for? Lying. Perjury. Prevarication.In this country, lying outside the government realm is widely accepted. As a waitress, I lied every day about the amount I made in tips to avoid taxes. My employer said nothing.Often we tell little "white" lies to avoid discomfort -- I actually think to a certain extent, there is no avoiding lying, and at one point even the most honest human being will lie.So lying should be considered a skill human beings have developed to survive in an overpopulated world -- where if you don't get in where you fit in, the next person will. Lying is a tool of the masses -- a way to overcome injustices -- saying you have a child living with you who is not so you can collect a larger welfare check, or denying there is domestic violence in the home.That sort of lying cannot be resolved by more lying. To resolve it, we must start at the root of the society's desperate lies, which is malice or greed or vengeance or the desire to hide a crime.Corporations often lie to the public, but not since the time of Nixon's resignation has America been faced with such a high political official actually caught lying on camera.The prevailing opinion is that politicians are liars, and we allow federal officials a certain amount of hogwash. For example, Clinton promised Haitian refugees asylum when he ran for office in 1992. After he was elected, there was news of Haitians dying while trying to get into the country.Clinton was not impeached for that lie. Why? Because the U.S. government lies to its citizens. Because those citizens don't care. Perhaps because no one in authority cared enough, or people thought he needed some leeway to keep the country going.Why don't we do battle against lying? Even our religious leaders lie, and are peaceably forgiven and allowed to go on with their television shows.I have come to the conclusion that lying is normal in 1998. Because the majority finds it to some degree acceptable, they will allow themselves to be persuaded by liars. The catch is, you can lie, but if someone who is opposed to your position, or with the power to broadcast to the world, can find out you're lying you risk exposure and humiliation.Basically, for civilians, America's policy seems to be, lies within the home are fine as long as the government doesn't know and lies within the government are fine as long as large religious organizations don't know and lies within large religious organizations are fine as long as you ask God to forgive you.I BEND THE TRUTH TO GET AHEADBy AnonymousIt seems that lying to get ahead has become commonplace. After all, who can really say they have never lied in order to get ahead?In the movie "Working Girl," Melanie Griffith's character says, "You can bend the rules plenty once you're at the top, but you can't get to the top unless you bend the rules."I believe this is true, but in the light of Clinton's fall I am starting to wonder how a lie, however seemingly trivial, can bring someone down. Labeled the "come-back kid," Clinton seems to survive every scandal. But this scandal is not based on an obscure scheme. It is something easy to identify with -- lying to cover up an extramarital affair.When it comes to attaining professional success, I bend the rules, often because I know I'm not in the "network". I did not go to Choate or Exeter and my parents don't sit on the boards of multinational corporations. As a member of an ethnic minority, I have to work twice as hard. I try to justify lying at times by asking myself how I am going to compete with people who have been given advantages far superior to any I enjoyed.The morning of the SATs, friends on the east coast e-mailed me the harder questions so I could get a higher score. I plagiarized a segment of one college application essay to make it more compelling.At times, I feel guilty about doing such deceitful things to get ahead, but it seems society has allowed for immorality and unethical behavior, at least marginally. Clinton's impeachment process supports this idea, as the majority of Americans oppose impeachment.Witnessing Clinton's political jeopardy has taught me the importance of placing a "positive spin" on issues. In an era where unethical acts are looked at through shades of gray and not in black and white, assessing what is right and wrong can often depend on one's powers of persuasion. Hazel Tesoro, Sayyadina Thomas and Anonymous, all 18, are on the staff of YO! (Youth Outlook), a newspaper by and about young people produced by Pacific News Service.

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