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Lyrics and Life

 

By Caitlin Ward

10/12/2016

Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful?
Paloma Faith

Prophet took my hand on all saints day
He preached the values of deception
Changing shadows by a shapeshifter rules
Tales are never just for fools
The court of conscience came before me
Presenting me with a heavenly angel
You took my hand and ask me, truth aside
To his questions I replied

CHORUS
Do you want the truth or something beautiful?
Just close your eyes and make believe
Do you want the truth or something beautiful?
I am happy to deceive you

He stood as tall as redwood trees
Drank tea from a seamstress thimble
Didn’t want to speak, the honest truth
So I spit out lies that aimed to soothe

CHORUS

Secrets, lying, falling veils
I can be who you want me to be
Sacred, lies in, telling tales
I can be who you want me to be
But do you want me?

CHORUS

Sacred lies in, telling tales
I can be who you wants me to be
I can be who you wants me to be
But do you want me?
But do you want me?

I am trying to ignore the American election. I am trying so very hard to ignore it. I don’t read the articles, don’t watch the short films and try not to listen to the pundits. The night of the first presidential debate I avoided the television and any part of the Internet that might be paying attention to it. The next day, people asked if I had seen it and I nearly put my fingers in my ears and said, “la la la la la la la . . .”

It’s just — there’s nothing I can do. Sending people videos of what an idiot one of the candidates is (you know which one I mean) won’t do any good, except we can sit in horrified silence or hysterical incredulity as this gong show unfolds to the south of us.

Of course, all of this said, trying to ignore the election doesn’t mean I’ve succeeded in doing so. It’s kind of everywhere. It’s seeping into most aspects of my life. Last week in class, I said explicitly I did not want to talk about that horrible little orange-faced man, but I ended up talking about something his horrible little son posted on Twitter about Skittles and refugees. It’s hard not to be incredulous. It’s hard not to watch in fascinated horror as this thing happens.

On some level, though, it’s not hard to believe that the American election has unfolded this way. On a more immediate level, it’s been hard not to type some variation of “people are fools” after the first sentence in this paragraph. I deleted some version of that sentiment three times before I figured I would just confess that’s what I was thinking at the moment. I don’t believe, though, that people are fools, or idiots.

I do think this American election has revealed just how racist and sexist a society we still live in, mind you. I say that not because Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have been subjected to an overabundance of scrutiny and prejudice, though it’s certainly arguable they have been. I say it because of how little scrutiny has stuck on the horrible little orange man. Oh, he has certainly been roundly criticized by people all over world. But he’s been much more absurd than either Clinton or Obama to garner such criticism, he’s far less qualified than either of them to do the job he claims he wants to do, and despite how ridiculous a human being he is, his words get traction. Was there ever any proof that Obama was born in Kenya? No. Who moved that fringe conspiracy into the spotlight? Trump. Who refused to believe the irrefutable proof? Trump. Who tried and failed to lie his way out of it? Trump.

But here’s the kicker: has it made any difference to his campaign?

Well, we won’t know until after the election is over, I guess. The fact that he’s got this far, though — it’s a little scary. The fact he doesn’t need anything resembling proof or facts for him to be believed — that is far more scary. It says to me that a white man speaking with authority is all the proof some people need. His lies, spoken with such conviction, get echoed across the continent and across the Internet. And even when they’re not believed, they’re taken seriously enough that even when they’re laughable, people take the time to refute them.

The fact that he doesn’t need anything resembling proof or facts to be believed also says to me that he says things people want to believe — and that is the scariest thing of all. Because that goes far beyond the single person saying the absurd thing. I honestly can’t think of another reason why so many people would say, and say publicly, that Barack Obama is a Muslim and a terrorist in league with ISIS, and he wants to destroy America. Three out of four of those claims can be disproven with the most cursory evidence. Statistically, the first claim doesn’t have much to do with the second and third, given the vast majority of practising Muslims are neither of those things, and the fourth claim — well, just about every American politician who tries to do anything is accused of wanting to destroy America at some point, so disproving it would be as counterproductive as it would be time-consuming. The real clincher with that one is that no one seems to be able to explain how universal health care is going to lead to an oppressive religious oligarchy.

And yet, the claim persists. It’s believable not because it’s possible or reasonable, but because a lot of people want to believe it. The same way people disbelieve statistics about police brutality against African Americans in the United States, and against First Nations people in Canada. We don’t want to think it’s true. The same way that despite the fact that Trump has demonstrably lied exponentially more than Clinton, she’s the one considered untrustworthy. We seem instinctively less inclined to believe women.

Really, I think this is why I’m trying to ignore the election. Not just because I am powerless to do anything about it, as I said at the beginning. But because it makes me think that people don’t want the truth — they want something beautiful.

Ward is a Saskatoon-based freelance writer who spends her days (and most nights) working at a small Catholic college. Her less eloquent thoughts can be found at www.twitter.com/newsetofstrings