I’ve decided to stop lying to you.
As far as I can tell there are only three kinds of lies: the kind you don’t want to get caught telling, the kind you don’t care if you get caught telling, and the kind you can’t get caught telling. Let’s go through them one by one.
1. The kind you don’t want to get caught telling. This is just your average, everyday lie, whether you’re late for work or did a real bad murder. Getting caught in the lie, thus, is a problem.
2. The kind you don’t care if you get caught telling. This kind of lie is about the lying, not about the outcome. You repeat the lie, stick to the lie, change the lie, re‑form the lie, abandon the lie, come back to the lie. The lying might help avoid some negative outcome, but really it’s a tool for weakening reality, and thus strengthening yourself.
3. The kind you can’t get caught telling. This happens when only you know the truth. This is the kind of lie I’ve been telling.
For years now, that last kind of lie has felt, to me, like a kindness. I mean, it’s not a surprise that the story of your reality is incomplete. We all know that. Scientists don’t know where most of the matter is. I don’t know what it’s like to live in Yemen. Our imagining of the world isn’t fully accurate. But if you know something no one else knows, something that would change everyone’s story overnight, something that would make everyone else’s life worse, telling the truth might seem like the wrong thing to do, like exercising too much power. As I have discovered, there’s nothing special about me, nothing that makes me particularly suited to making that kind of decision for an entire planet of people. The only reason I get to make it, it turns out, is ugly, vulgar luck.
A lot of people have said that I have a habit of exercising too much power, and one of those people is me, which is why I am about to do something I’m extremely uncomfortable with: let other people tell the story. Oh, to be clear, I don’t have any choice. I wasn’t there for a lot of this, so it isn’t my story to tell. Instead, my friends are going to tell it with me. Maybe that way we can share some of the responsibility of the power of this truth. It won’t be all on me: each of us have to agree that the words in this book are worth putting in here. Trust me, it wasn’t easy, these people can be fucking stubborn.
All of this is to say, I’ve decided to stop lying to you. We have decided to stop lying to you. Even though the lie is easy to tell, even though I never really said it out loud, even though the lie, most days, feels like nothing more than self‑preservation, it’s time to tell you about the lie.
Here it is, in its most basic form: I have been doing everything I can to convince you that we are safe.