Still Seeing Ghosts

Dr. Joseph Goebbels, propaganda minister of the Third Reich, is reported to have said or wrote at some point in his miserable life: “Repeat a lie a thousand times and it becomes the truth.” That quote and attribution have been repeated well over a thousand times.

Another version of the quote goes like this: “If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it.” There are at least another dozen versions of Goebbels’ quote floating around. I like to believe that he never said or wrote any such thing. That would make for good irony.

It has always been interesting to me how easy it is to spread a rumor and build or destroy someone’s reputation. It’s as easy as opening your mouth or moving your fingers.

The truth should be enough to destroy anyone’s reputation, but the truth is generally hard to come by. It’s much easier to lie, exaggerate or guess than to search for the truth. What’s the difference anyway?

One day the world is flat, the next day it’s round. One day the universe is contracting, the next day it’s expanding. One day there isn’t a god, the next day there is. If we can’t figure out the big questions, good luck proving your spouse is cheating on you or that it even matters.

I wrote two stories in 2001 about how I see ghosts. The stories were complete and utter baloney. I made them up. I wouldn’t recognize a ghost if it jumped out of my cereal bowl and stole my nose. I mean, what is a ghost anyway?

Years later, a woman approached me and asked if I was the guy who sees ghosts. She had read my stories and really enjoyed them. I told her that I don’t actually see ghosts, but she refused to believe me. As if she knew better than I did!

Well, the truth is, it doesn’t matter whether I’ve seen a ghost or not. I can easily lie about it either way and no one will ever prove the truth. If you want me to see ghosts, then I see ghosts.

A special note to that woman: Thanks for continuing to read my column. By the way, not only do I see ghosts, I a ghost. I’ve been watching you for a long time now, and I think you have some atoning to do.

Paul Lundgren is a newspaper columnist and a very nice man. His e-mail address is mail @ paullundgren.com.