Am I Finally Growing Up?

“Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error.” Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC- 43 BC), Roman Philosopher       

You’ve caught someone−a friend, a partner, a colleague−in a lie. What do you do? Do you confront the person, or say nothing and remain watchful. Or do you tell yourself you’ll never be duped again and shut out the person from your life?

If you’re me (a card-carrying-bleeding-heart-socialist who tries hard to look beyond the lie to the reasons behind it, usually questioning myself as to what it is about me that made the person lie) you shrug, accept explanations provided, forget the transgression and go on with your life.

I know what you’re thinking: wake up already. But, I’ve been like this forever.

Okay, so what happens if that same person lies to you again? Or they lie multiple times  (compulsively, obsessively) all in the name of protecting themselves, their own? Now what do you do? How many more chances do you give them? If they stay in your life, do you nod when they talk and believe absolutely nothing they say? Or do you confront them and ask them to come clean? Or do you simply kick them out of your life?

If you’re me, you’re blindsided first and foremost. You act as though this has never happened before. I usually curse myself. Why am I such a slow learner?

Typically I’m good at confronting, laying out my hurt feelings, asking for an explanation. Then I listen. This is always dangerous in my case because it means I will give just about anyone a second, third, fourth, and many more chances because I figure there must be a reason behind the persistent lying and I want to understand what it is. 

Am I a saint? Not by a long shot. So why am I telling you about my propensity? I guess because I want you to understand that if I question what someone says, it’s not coming from the qualms of a confirmed sceptic, but rather from someone who at her core believes everything she’s told. In other words, I don’t typically question another person’s honesty or, better put, it takes a great deal for me to question someone’s honesty.

Except now.

I have no doubt there was a chemical attack in Syria (and by all accounts, it wasn’t the first time). In recent days the UN has confirmed chemicals were used on the Syrian people. But at the moment, we have no one’s word except the American government that the Syrian regime perpetrated this attack. And as we all know, the American government can only be trusted to tell us the kind of truth that serves their interests. Do I need to remind anyone of the Weapons of Mass Destruction debacle or the torture of Afghani prisoners or the secret rendition flights of mostly innocent civilians? And this is only recent history. I could go on with examples from other wars, other misguided interventions, but what’s the point? We’ve all seen our friend’s true nature, even as he’s tried to plead righteousness.

I’m afraid the British government (yet another ally) is no better. They plagiarised a university paper and passed it off as intelligence during the Iraq war.  What kind of government acts like a stressed out student who needs to cheat to either get a better grade or be noticed for something by the bigger, tougher bully? 

And don’t get me started on the Canadian government’s track record!

Believe me I am no fan of the weasel in Syria. That’s what makes it so easy to fall into the trap of believing the American and British governments. Except their past behaviour also makes it too scary for me to go along with their rhetoric without question or discussion. This time, I need to see the evidence. And, by evidence, I don’t mean scarcely visible images explained by a nervous, uncertain general as was done to justify invading Iraq.

And I’m afraid, I can’t simply go along with the President’s word either. Isn’t he the same guy who told the world he was going to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center? We saw him sign the paperwork as cameras flashed. Didn’t he campaign on a platform of transparency? Didn’t we later find out about the spying his government has been doing on its allies and its own citizens?

Yes, this time I’m going to need proof of who exactly used the chemical agents in Syria. And by proof, I mean the kind that can only be provided by an impartial group such as the United Nations inspection team.

Maybe I’m finally growing up.

It’s sad to lose your innocence, have your eyes forced open by repeated assaults on your trust, but at the same time it’s not all bad either. Growing up means I see situations more objectively. I question and poke at what is being said, search for the truth. I don’t allow myself to be guided by bravado, propaganda or fist-pumping emotion. And growing up means I take my decisions and their ramifications seriously. Perhaps certain governments could try a little growing up too. As I said, it’s not all bad. And who knows, they (read here, the American government) might be able to avoid some of the mistakes of the past.

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