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Your lies will catch up with you

SUNDAY MAGAZINE
By Paul Gitau | March 13th 2016

My 16-year old daughter was watching a news bulletin on television when she suddenly exclaimed, “Dad, these guys are unbelievable.”

She was referring to an exchange between politicians in the ongoing, never-ending corruption saga.

She compared the behaviour of the speakers to children caught in some mischief — the strident denials and the blame-game were quite comical.

The irony was that those facing these accusations are quite elderly.  In traditional African society, their role as elders would have been to advise the young about how to lead and live an upright life.

These  men were a far cry from  my grandfather who served seven years in detention under the colonial government, and because he was considered something of a statesman, he was assigned the role of distributing land to the landless after independence.

Despite holding a privileged position, my grandfather did not appropriate himself land.  Imagine that happening today.

When did the rain start beating us and what are we teaching our children?

What do those accused of theft and plunder of public property tell their children? Do they have the right to tell them not to steal? What  foundation are we building for our children, and can it stand the test of time or will it crumble like a house of cards?

To many Kenyans, the debate on corruption has become quite tiresome, so I will not address the issue today.

However, I want to discuss how we have unwittingly surrendered our integrity. It is easy to be dishonest.  What we call white lies, or exaggerations usually slip in unnoticed. We should no longer qualify lies, regardless of the situation.

With all lies, the ripple effects can cause plenty of damage.

We must be clear about what it is to be dishonest and make no excuses for it.

Here are some examples of dishonest actions many Kenyans would turn a blind eye on:

Lying to police officers;

Telling your wife you are on your way home, yet your journey home has not began;

Lying under oath for whatever reason;

Exaggerating your contribution to  a successful project; 

Evading taxes;

Dishonesty should never be classified based on extenuating circumstances or the perceived magnitude of the consequences.

If you do any of these things, you are lying and there will be a  ripple effect.

You may have heard the anecdote about a butterfly beating its wings in Nevada causing a dust storm on the other side of the globe.

Your lies may not cause a problem in Australia, but nearer home and within your family; and you are creating liars. These lies may look harmless enough at face value. For example, when you lie on the telephone to excuse yourself from a badly timed engagement;

Or when you sign your child’s homework diary without checking the assignment;

Or when you lie in the note to your child’s teacher about why your child will miss school. It takes  great discipline for an overworked, over extended and over-stressed parent to fight the temptation to lie in these circumstances.

But you must exercise discipline because your children will remember your actions  longer than they will remember your words.

If you preach one thing to your children but they see you do another, should you be surprised when they lose their respect for you and begin to rebel?  If you believe your lies do not impact your family, you are not only a liar; you are a fool as well.

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