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50 Essays A Portable Anthology The Ways We Lie

Buckley / Ericsson

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Buckley / Ericsson
     In their essays both Buckley and Ericsson analyze the different ways we use lies to help and hurt our self in our every day lives, and how this effects American culture. Ericsson shows the way lies can , as she puts it, “ lubricate the daily machinery of living”(128). Buckley, on the other hand uses examples of lies as a way to deny himself; and do exactly the opposite of Ericsson. But they both show how we as Americans use lies these ways and others so much that most of us may not realize it.
     Ericsson’s essay was obviously about The Ways We Lie, mostly about the way we lie to other people to make their or your own life easier. Buckley’s essay is not so obviously about lying, but if you read deeper into the text you can see how Buckley makes his life harder by lying to himself. When Ericsson is describing the white lie; she use the example of a friend telling another friend she looks good when the truth is she doesn’t. This is exactly how we use lies to lubricate daily living, we avoid confrontation. “ The liar deciding what is best for the lied to” (Ericsson 121). When Buckley describes the amount of discomfort he endured from the heat on the train, he imagines what would happen to the conductor in an age of more violence. “The passengers would seize the conductor and strap him down on a seat over the radiator to share the fate of his patrons” (64). He has strong feelings toward the conductor, because something has not already been done. When the conductor approaches Buckley; he has intensions of making the conductor aware of the problem, but the simple stare of his neighbor drives him to ignore the plain facts. Even though Buckley notices, “the car was flecked with the white shirts of the passengers”; he uses the stare as a way to dilute the truth into believing that his idea of turning the heat down would not be the consensus of the rest of the car (64).
     The way lies have become a part of are daily life as Americans, and the way this has effected our culture is what both Ericsson and Buckley express in their essays. I think Buckley clearly stated his essay’s purpose when he said, “ what has happened to the American people.

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Ericsson         White Lie         Own Life         Conductor         Other People         Looks         Plain         Drives         Hurt         Lies        




”(65). It is almost as if he is looking for the reader to find the answer, if they do look they will find it (or at least they will find what Buckley thinks is the answer). Buckley says that no one did anything in the movie theater when the screen was out of focus, because, “ everyone was expecting someone else to take the initiative…”(66). This kind of behavior can be seen regularly in American culture. When we drive past a stopped car on the freeway, and we assume that if they needed our help they would have waved me down. Someone else will stop. We think to our self, “if there was an accident I would stop”. If we do stop and they did not need are help we would look stupid for stopping. We think we are to busy to bother, or that is not a big deal. That we can’t make a difference and we are stupid for trying. Buckley nails American’s way of thinking when he said, “ We are all increasingly anxious in America to be unobtrusive, we are reluctant to make our voices heard, hesitant about claiming our rights; we are afraid that our cause is unjust, or that if it not unjust, that it is ambiguous; or if not even that, that it is too trivial to justify the horrors of a confrontation with authority”(66). Ericsson’s whole essay showed how lies where used threw out American culture, but the focus maybe was not about how lies effect it. She illustrates this best when she talks about stereotypes and clichés. It easier to continue if we can think all the evils in the world look exactly the same. This is why stereotypes has had such a strong hold threw out history; not only in America, but all over the world. We feel a lot safer if the only people we have to worry about dressed a certain way, or had the same color skin. “Stereotype and cliché serve a purpose as a form of shorthand.” (125). We don’t have to come up with a solution to a problem if the problem is students wearing gang colors to school, or sagging their pants to low. Americans like to think that they are different then the people they see on TV being killed by car bombs, or killed by tribal wars in Africa, because it makes it easier to let it keep happening. Ericsson said, “Fat people, ugly people, beautiful people, old people, large-breasted women, short men, the mentally ill, and the homeless all could tell you how much more they are like us than we want to think”(125).
     As Ericsson would say, “telling the truth all the time is nearly impossible”(120). Lying is just a part of your everyday, like coffee with breakfast. Or is it? For Buckley’s life lying became a suffocating part of his life. With these two authors illustrating how something such as a lie; that walks that kind of line can have an effect on our society.
      Buckley, William F. “Why Don‘t We Complain?” 50 Essays A Portable Anthology.
     Ed. Samuel Cohen. Bedford/St. Martin’s: Boston NY,2004. 64-70.
Ericsson, Stephanie. “The Ways We Lie.” 50 Essays A Portable Anthology.
     Ed. Samuel Cohen. Bedford/St. Martin’s: Boston NY,2004. 120-129.