Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Is honesty really the best policy?

We all lie to an extent; white lies, serious lies, living a lie, self-deceiving lies...the list goes on. Regardless of what it is, should it always be frowned upon?

While I don't condone lying all the time, isn't it okay to "truth-twist" a bit? For example, do you necessarily want to explain to your child that they're beloved dog Fido got smushed underneath an 18 wheeler? Most of us would say things like "Fido went to look for his family in Mexico because even doggies have families...".

Sure, certain lies could cause a lot of unnecessary hurt and should always be avoided with those that you care about but this brings me to my next point.

I was recently watching an episode of Boston Legal wherein the father of a child has recently divorced the child's mother. The father is now dying of a form of cancer that requires a viable bone marrow donor in order to give him a fighting chance. The mother has rights to the child's umbilical cord which has been kept frozen in a cryogenic lab in case the child should ever need it. Although the father requests use of the child's umbilical cord to cure him, the mother does not want to release it because she knows that her ex-husband is not actually the biological father of the child. The legal attorney, who is now aware of this fact, is faced with the difficult decision of whether she should observe the duty she has to her client to tell him the truth or whether she should keep the truth from him to prevent any additional mental anguish.

What does she do?

She lies. She tells him that the umbilical cord was accidentally damaged.

This brings about another side of things - if you could tell a lie to save a person from being hurt, would you do it?

I know this sounds bad but depending on the situation, I know that I would lie. While I know that I have no right to decide what would be best for another person, I would always shield someone I love from definitely being hurt. I can't help it. I'm aware of the moral implications but I kind of brush those aside.

Don't take me as the type of gal that would say that you look wonderful in a dress that doesn't flatter your figure. I'm not that black and white. I'll make decisions based on someone's best interest. If I know that a girlfriend is trying to find something that would make them look scrumptious for an afternoon, I will not EVER let them walk out of a change room looking like a pile of lumps and bumps.

I think that, in the end, it is important to identify who you are deceiving with this lie. Is it someone else you are protecting, or is it yourself? Are you lying about kissing a floozy while you're attached because you genuinely love him and sincerely regret getting so hammered OR is it because you don't want to get caught. If your answer is the latter, then maybe your best option is to actually get caught so that you can, once again, have the freedom to explore other options.

Questions, questions...answers anyone?


  1. I definitely think that small, white lies are OK sometimes. I think that new movie that's coming out "The World's First lie" or something like that makes a really good point - we don't want people telling us we look bad or suck all day long, even if that's what they really think!!

  2. On that note, I completely agree Amber - I think that a bit of self delusion is completely necessary to get through the day confidently. You don't need to be plagued by negativity. I still live by Thumper's rule in Bambi, "if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all.."

  3. I think sympathetic white lies are okay, to protect the people involved, but it ends there. Lying hurts more than it helps.

  4. Its hard to agree or disagree when one has seen the merit and pain to both sides. It really is situation specific, and based on the extent of trust shared. Now, question, to get caught or not laydee?

  5. Some things are simply better left unsaid in my opinion. For example my bf told me a situation about how his best friend had slept with a few other girls when he and his gf had taken a break. He asked me if he should tell his gf (they are now back together) about the episodes?

    NO! No! And NO! They were broken up for the time and if she ever found it she'd flip! It would cause more damage than good.

    It is a situational thing. You need to weigh it out and go with your gut. Sometimes a white lie is ok and appropriate.

    With all of that said, don't think I go around lying, because I don't. I'm just cautious with how much information I give out and what it in-tells.

  6. Just read this post and I must say I think honesty is the best policy. Without a doubt. But, *if* a white lie would save someone from getting hurt (and I mean, really hurt) then it might be ok. As Anonymous said, it depends on the context.

    By the way, I see you're currently reading Shantaram. Have wanted to read that book for several years but never gotten around to it. I've heard it's amazing. I so need to finally read it.

  7. Hey Erica! Thanks for giving me a read. As for Shantaram, you MUST give IT a read! It's honestly fanastic. It makes you question a variety of topics and presents India in a way that is unparalleled in other books (in my opinion). Let me know what you think!


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