If I’m being honest, I am a liar. And that is not really a paradox, because I don’t always lie. In fact, I often lie in order to reveal a deeper truth. (I know, I know… rationalizations are simply another kind of lie.) I lie because I used to be a school teacher. You know that teachers have to be liars because you can’t say to a parent, “Your kid is ugly and stupid, and I have documented proof.” You especially can’t say that if it really is provable. Instead, you have to tell the lie that any kid can learn and do and be anything they want if only they are willing to work hard enough. And you have to tell that lie often enough that the kid, the parent, and even you, the teacher, believe it to the point that it becomes true.
And now that I am retired and not telling the school teacher’s lie any longer, I have become a novelist, and I have now made it my business to make up fiction stories and compile lies into book form. And though the people or characters are based loosely on real people I have known, they are really only a narrative trick to make the reader think about and possibly accept as truth the themes my writing puts forward.
(Boy! I sure am an ugly old hairy nut-job, ain’t I? = a lie in question form.)
But if I’m being honest today, there are a few things I need to say truthfully, straight out without irony or falsehood or exaggeration. Let me offer these truths.
- In this political environment where partisan politics divide us to the point of attempted assassinations with bombs, I do not hate the other side of the argument. I don’t hate Republicans and conservatives. Some of my old friends in Iowa and some of my good friends in Texas are conservative enough to have voted for Trump. I do not reject them as my friends because of their politics. They are good people and worthy in too many ways to list. And though they may be sympathetic to someone who threatens me because I have looney liberal ideas, I don’t expect any of them to send me bombs in the mail. That kind of division is the opposite of what we need.
- I know what statistics say about kids and learning potential. I have worked hard during my lifetime to create educational achievement in places where it is nearly impossible. I believe in the value of every student, and some of the worst behavioral problems and some of the most difficult learning disabilities helped me really get to know some of my all-time favorite kids.
- I will continue to tell lies for the sake of education and art and all the things that matter to me. Lies can be used for good as much as the truth can be used for injury and evil. But my lies will always be soap-bubble hoo-haws, easily popped and seen through for what they really are meant to accomplish, never big black cannonball lies meant to rip people apart and destroy the fortresses they live in.
- If I’m being honest, even though I am a liar, you can believe in me.