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  • Writer's pictureDan FitzPatrick

To Tell a Lie

The weather recently has been unbearably hot. Fortunately, Logan and I are able to spend the hottest parts of each day inside the house we share with our humans, which has the almost magical ability to feel cool in the hot weather and warm in the cold. We particularly like to rest on the cool stone-like floor of the space our humans call the “mud room,” engaged in idle talk or quiet contemplation.

On one such day, I raised a question that had been gnawing at my mind: “Logan,” I asked, “what is lying?”

“You mean what we are doing now?” Logan replied. “No,” I responded, “it’s a word I keep hearing our eldest male human use a lot recently, and it is upsetting him a great deal.”

“Ah, yes, that word!” Logan sighed and let out a small chuckle. “I’d tell you to sit down for this, but conveniently, you already are.”

“Lying means to tell a lie. As far as I can tell, only humans do it. A lie is a statement that is knowingly false and is made with the intention to deceive, usually in order to achieve an objective or gain some advantage which would not be possible in face of the truth. A human who intentionally tells a lie is called a ‘liar,’ and someone who lies regularly is called a ‘habitual liar.’ A lie differs from a mistake, misstatement, exaggeration, or honest difference of opinion because of its knowing and intentionally manipulative motive and purpose.”

“I’ll give you an example. Let’s say I told you that it was cool today. Would that be a lie? Not necessarily, because the truth of that statement could depend on perspective. Outside of this house it is most definitely not cool; here, where we are sitting, it is. If I made that statement from the perspective of my life this moment in this place, as if this room was the totality of the world as I knew it, it would not be a lie but simply an expression of reality as I am experiencing it. However, if I made that statement to you, knowing full well that it was not true but intending to encourage you to go outside so that I could eat all your food, that would be a lie.”

“I’m curious why you are asking this.”

I replied, “It’s because our humans are becoming increasingly upset that they are being lied to by other people who they used to trust completely. I’ve heard them say they have lost faith in their leaders and the people whose job it is to keep them safe. They feel like some of those people have either become so caught up in pursuing their own ambitions that they have simply lost sight of the truth, or, worse, that they have such little regard for the truth that they intentionally tell falsehoods in the belief that those they tell them to won’t realize they are being deceived, and that even if they are caught in the deception, there will be no real consequences for it.”

“I’ve heard them say that most of the principles, rules, and traditions they cherish are being attacked and undermined, most often through use of these lies. They call it a ‘vicious cycle’ where lies breed more lies until whatever is being lied about is destroyed. It is upsetting them, and it upsets me to watch them be upset.”

“Logan, do dogs lie?”

“No, Cadbury, we don’t. We can’t. Apart from the occasional disagreements we might have over treats or dog toys, and our long-standing antipathy toward cats, our days and lives are full of just one thing: our love for our humans. That love takes up so much space in our hearts that there is no room left for thoughts or emotions that don’t relate directly to whatever is good and best for them. We are happiest when they are happy. It really is as simple as that.”

I sat quietly for some time, thinking about what I had just heard. “So, humans should be more like dogs?” Logan smiled. “Well, the amazing thing is that, alone in the animal kingdom, humans have the ability to choose how they act. In the end, it’s up to them to decide whether they are willing to accept things as they are now, or to make a change. More love for each other certainly seems like the better choice.”

“But don’t expect humans to become too much like dogs. I suspect the cat population would mount a pretty considerable opposition to that idea.”

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