Lying Consistently or Telling the Truth

When I got out of the US Army in 1964 I was a confused young man.  I had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, but initially I felt some urgency to get started doing it.  My first thought was to buy a farm in the vicinity of Portales, New Mexico, where I’d spent most of my youth and done a lot of farm labor.  That area was in the process of the subtle change from hardscrabble family farms to agribusiness farms, though I didn’t recognize it.

Although my granddad had a small farm a few miles from town, and although the main revenue for the population was farm-related, most non-farmers didn’t hold  farmers in high regard.  Including my granddad, with reasons he considered adequate.

The result was that my granddad, my mom and my step-dad took active measures, once I found a 160 acre irrigated farm I could swing for, to make certain with the local bank that I didn’t get financing to buy it.  They each pronounced separately to me that I was destined for ‘better things’ than farming, which I bitterly resented.

Someone mentioned to me the Peace Corps was a place where young people at loose ends were volunteering to go off and set the world right.  Relatively new at the time, I’d never heard of it, but I applied.

Then, as I’d done numerous times before, I hitch-hiked out of that town.  The World Fair was going on in New York, and I headed that direction, and spent the summer in Greenwich Village simulating being a beatnik.

I might talk more about all this in future posts, but I’ve digressed from my original intentions for this one.

I began my Peace Corps training in Hilo, Hawaii.  India X Peace Corps Project, intended to send bright young Americans off to Gujarat, India, to teach the locals how to raise chickens.  Sometime I’ll probably wax poetic about all that, but I’m trying to limit my digressions.

Training was intended to be a time of intense learning, but it was also clear, we were cautioned from the beginning, it also served as a filter to remove the great percentage of the trainees  through observation, psychological testing, peer ratings, and voluntary withdrawals.  A sort of basic training with the emphasis on washing out all trainees with potential shortcomings.  About 2/3 of India X washed out of training before the end, including me.

But I’m having a lot of trouble getting to the point of this post because of all the background material.  Enough!

One of the methods of screening trainees was the Minnesota Multi-Phase Personality Test.  Most of the trainees were well-enough educated to be familiar with it.  The MMPP was reputed to be ‘unbeatable’, and we were each acutely aware of our personal shortcomings.  Most of us agreed if the Peace Corps had any idea what was going on in our heads they’d faint, revive themselves, and deselect us without further ado.

During the week prior to the test we’d gather at night to discuss the best strategy for foiling the Peace Corps cadre and the MMPP.  The two obvious approaches were, a] Tell the truth and suffer the consequences, and hope to be forgiven, or, b] Lie consistently.

By reputation, the MMPP wasn’t capable of being lied to consistently without catching you out.

Most of us viewed ourselves as the cream of US youth.  The Peace Corps told us that’s what we were from the first day of acceptance for training.  We’d been picked from hundreds, maybe thousands of applicants.

So we’d already fooled them that much.

Our consensus as a group was to lie consistently.  Some of us succeeded.

This is getting lengthy, so I’ll use it as a launchpad, most likely, for some future posts.

John Prine– Let’s Talk Dirty in Hawaiian

14 responses to “Lying Consistently or Telling the Truth

  1. Me a RPCV Ghana 77-79
    I didn’t get anything like that at all. Went over with two other guys and training consisted of drinking beer where ever we could find it. The money they give you at the end was called a readjustment allowance and I just say you never readjust and they should keep paying.

    Sounds like what you experienced was a bunch of do gooders who were anal about every rule.

    I’m better off for it and from what you wrote it seems you did hard time before you tried the PC.

    Have a good one Jules. At least you got to go to India right??

    • Hi One Fly: Thanks for coming by. Nope, I was one of the deselectees. Devastating at the time, but I have no doubt they were right booting me. Mid-selection took out about half the group and they put us on a plane from Hilo to Honolulu, on to the mainland. A couple of us got off at Honolulu, which led down another entire road my life took and I can’t imagine any other way I’d want it to have gone.

      I appreciate you stopping in and I tips my hat to you Ghana folks. I’ve found over the decades that a lot of people I respect spent time in the Peace Corps. Gracias,

  2. I don’t think it’s too late to join again. Or is it?

    • Hi Momlady: I don’t know whether it even exists anymore. If it does I doubt I could take the cats along. I’ve seen the confidence I once had in my own superiority in knowledge and wisdom erode enough over the decades to reduce any desire to try to influence things in that manner. I figures today that if those people in Gujarat wanted to raise chickens they’d have had the good sense to find out how to do it without the help of a pack of US youngsters teaching it to them.

      After all, if you look at the surnames of the people applying for US patents in almost any field, the surnames of presenters of papers for conferences in almost any scientific or engineering area of interest over the past few decades you’ll quickly see it’s gradually shifting to Asians in every field, away from the old familiar English/European dominance. Those people have taken the bull by the horns while we’ve loosened our own grip.

      Thanks for the visit this morning. Gracias, J

  3. Gotta say, I love me some John Prine!! What a clever feller!

    • Hi Michael Ultra: Yeah, he is that. I’m also grateful to him for starting Red Pajama Recording to keep Steve Goodman’s work out there available as long as he did. Thankee for coming by.

  4. One Fly: Tom Russell [his blog link’s on the blog roll] evidently spent some time in the PC in [I think] one of those Ghana groups. He mentions something about getting a gun pointed at his head by a black man with a machine gun in his song, ‘East of Woodstock West of Vietnam”. I’ve admired his music for a number of decades, but that song came as a surprise to me.

    You ever encounter Tom Russell, you recall?

  5. I like the title of the post. Lying consistently is usually called “going undercover,” or acting in some entertainment production, no?

  6. No I did not Jules. I’m checking his place out. Thanks.

    While driveing way out in the bush one time with some one came across a lone soldier at a very tiny hut for an outpost. He had a small machine gun. He was just a “small boy” but was in the army. Asked him if I could look at his weapon and he handed it right over loaded with his only three bullets.

  7. It wasn’t okay to be a farmer, but it was okay to go to India and teach the locals how to raise chickens. Go figure. Families put the fun in dysFUNctional.

    I was a deselectee, also. Third grade. I was not crowned Queen Liliuokalani. My teacher and her husband had spent some time in Hawaii, the service perhaps, so we spent a couple of days being introduced to this new state. That sort of took the wind out of my sails, lessened my chances of learning to speak Hawaiian. One word stuck: Lakanooki. Yeah, I know, a very old joke, but it’s all I got.

  8. Lol Love this tale, thanks for sharing it. I didn’t do peace corps but I did do army and a few colleges, and the lying consistently to beat the system part does sound like the way everybody always talks when coming together to complain about whatever system it is.

  9. Ed Hurst: Lying consistently usually just describes a human being living a lifetime, though frequently the lies aren’t consistent and equally frequently the human being never admits to himself he’s lying. I suppose going undercover or acting in an entertainment production might add a layer or two of depositions, but hardly is needed.

    However, you’re old enough to know by now that recognizing untruth involves an entirely different set of skills than believing we recognize an untruth. Your and my skills involve believing we recognize untruth. Our beliefs about it have nothing to do with whether it’s actually true.

    One Fly: Hope you manage to hear some of his songs. He’s a good un.

    Teresa Evangeline: Lakanooki is the first word of the Hawaiian language almost everyone learns. I’d hate to think you’d been robbed of that. Thanks for stopping by.

    Rahkyt: S’truth. Thanks for the visit.

  10. I’m 68 i got out of the army in 63 moved to N.Y.when i got out , was sort of attracted to the beat slogan of ( peaceful co-existance) still think it’s not a bad thought.

    • Hi timetales. Contemporaries is what you and I are. Never was a bad idea in the abstract. I never had a chance to examine it in the actuality, so I can’t offer an opinion. Thanks for coming by. Jules

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