“You can protect yourself from a thief by locking valuables away. You can protect yourself from physical harm by taking self defense classes. But there is absolutely no way to protect yourself from lies.”
One of my best friends made this statement as we sat in her car one late night catching up on each other’s lives after working out. Her words remained in my head long after we’d parted ways.
I thought to myself, “I am a liar. I have told big lies, small lies, and lied by omission. I will, as an imperfect being, lie again in my lifetime. I have also had people tell lies to me, both big lies and small lies. Will I spend the rest of my life having people think that all of my words are untrue? Will I have to spend the rest of my life second-guessing others?”
All of us: young/old, rich/poor, black/white, lie at some point within our lifetime. Many of us tell numerous lies and lie by omission. All lies stem from one ugly quality that we all battle constantly: FEAR.
Deep down, we all have fears: fear of hurting someone’s feelings, fear of breaking someone’s heart, fear of missing out on fun, fear of not being accepted, fear of loneliness, fear of disappointing others…
Fear, not lying, ultimately leads to conflicts. Without fear, lies would not exist. Without lies, most conflicts could be avoided.
I’ve learned that ridding ourselves of the coward that is inside us, the coward that pushes us to lie to others, takes nothing more than being courageous.
I have been a coward at different points in my life, and I still have cowardly ways at times because there are things of which I’m fearful and have yet to face. I’ve learned that facing fear head on, saying and doing the things that we shy away from, is the only way to rid ourselves of the coward that aims to emerge from within us and overpower our positive qualities. Being courageous about fear is an ongoing process that has to be tackled with each new day and every new situation we encounter. When the coward inside of you tells you to go left, you have to force yourself to turn right.
Fear holds us back and stunts our growth in so many ways. Fear destroys friendships, families, and businesses. In the black community, we have been lied to for hundreds of years. We continue to be lied to today by politicians, the media, the educational system, etc. To truly make changes and untangle ourselves from the web of lies in which we have been caught, we have to begin being truthful with ourselves, our family and friends.
I apologize to everyone I have ever lied to and thus caused internal or external conflict. I aim to do better. I will be courageous about fear!
“Fear is…a most effective tool in destroying the soul of an individual and the soul of a people.” (Anwar Sadat)
Imani Vee is a Baltimore educator, author, and lifelong learner.