Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The truth is always more heroic than the hype

Those words were spoken today on Capitol Hill by former Army private Jessica Lynch.

Sometimes it might seem too obvious to bother to state that lying is a bad thing. But, actually we need reminding all the time. The temptation to tell lies -- especially when we convince ourselves that it is actually in the best interest of the person we are lying to or about -- is sometimes overwhelming. We even have a phrase for doing this -- telling "white lies". Especially when people are sick, or in the hospital, we are tempted to lie to them -- to tell them they are sure to get better when we know they probably will not. We convince ourselves that we are serving them when we do that.

But the story told by Ms. Lynch and by the family of Army Ranger and former football star Pat Tillman should remind us of how painful lies can be.

It would be easy to convince ourselves that the military's lies about Lynch were in her best interest. After all, who wouldn't want to be hailed as a brave, gun-toting hero, as she was? Why would anyone want people to know that the truth is that you let your gun barrel get jammed with sand and that you endured sexual assault at the hands of your enemies?

Lynch bravely answered, today: "The truth is always more heroic than the hype," she said. "The American people are capable of determining their own ideals for heroes, and they don't need to be told elaborate lies," she also said. "I had the good fortune to come home and to tell the truth. Many soldiers, like Pat Tillman, did not have that opportunity."

Tillman, of course, was killed by "friendly fire" (that is, accidentally by his fellow soldiers) and not by the enemy as the military had long contended. HIs family testified as to how deeply wounded they were to realize that the military they had trusted and whom their loved one had served so bravely and faithfully had broken their faith with them by deceiving them about TIllman's death.

May it be the will of the Blessed Holy One that we find the strength to tell the truth even in the times when it is hardest and to keep our faith with those who trust us and count on us.

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