"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone. "It means just what I choose it to mean — neither more or less."
— Lewis Carrol (1832 - 1898)
The kid was a friend of my younger brother's, which means he was a couple of years younger than I. Yet I found myself atop him, holding him down and shouting, "You lie! You lie! You lie!"
And it's true, Sylvain lied constantly, about matters trivial and important — he lied so consistently that I now I wonder if he even understood the difference between truth and falsehood, reality and fantasy.
The precise nature of the lie that set me off is now lost to me, but I still understand my young self's rage; that truth matters is something I have implicitly believed from a very young age. At times I have surprised people because I will (more or less) happily stop an argument or discussion with those too-rare words, "I was wrong."
It has taken me decades to understand on a gut-level that those three simple words are not easy for most people to say, that in an action I find relatively easy others see some kind of humiliation or, at least, a substantial loss of face.
My first conscious lesson in that difference between myself and many others came during my late teens or very early 20s, in conversation with a friend with whom I had shared a very unusual relationship.
We'd met on the first day of Grade seven, when we had both expressed interest in joining (starting? Memory is a hazy affair at the best of times) a chess club. We quickly learned we had a lot more in common than just chess and we soon became fast friends, revelling in intellectual confrontation. He was a Christian, I an atheist; he was a Liberal, I a Socialist. And we argued about it all, enthusiastically and, sometimes, to the point where debate degenerated to fighting.