As a storyteller and fiction writer, I spend a lot of my time lying. Creating and telling a story is the heart of a lie, after all. When I look about and see what the media reports and more importantly, what people around me say to get by, and things I have said in the past, I wonder sometimes if the much-vaunted and supposedly laudable ambition of telling the truth in all things and at all levels would be such a good idea after all.
The concept of the ‘white lie’ (ignoring racial overtones) is ingrained into our society. The use of a ‘small’ deceit to prevent causing pain or offence. This is primarily evidenced being told to children, to cover for things they ‘would not understand’. As I am not a parent, I cannot properly comment on the wisdom and risks of this except to say that children work out the selfish benefits of deliberate lying around the age of five. Prior to that it’s just an instinctive aversion to blame. Which is telling, isn’t it? Lying is fundamental to our natures.
Taken further, there are the lies we tell to get by, the ones that enable avoidance of confrontation or topics we are uncomfortable dealing with. Frequently justified by telling ourselves that we will deal with the situation later, yet nearly always left as told and even reinforced by further lies to cover the initial transgression.
There are many ways to lie and many terms to make it polite. Diplomacy. Mercy. All presented in a way that enhance the tellers basic good nature and sincerity toward helping those being lied to. It is even acceptable to lie to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.
So where does one draw the line, if a line needs to be drawn? I would think any lie that causes pain to others or causes someone to be regarded in a negative way is wrong. The scale of the deception and the number of people involved ups the severity exponentially.
Let me illustrate the point, in my clumsy and biased way: To go to war to defend your oil supplies under the pretence of freeing a nation you had the opportunity to free a decade or so before but chose not to out of political expediency? That’s a big lie.
When your friend says “Does this make me look fat?” and you say “Of course not!” when said friend now resembles an elephant in a condom – that is a big lie as well. Your friend has asked for your genuine opinion. Do you not care enough to point out that it does not show off the best aspects?
I’m avoiding getting into the lies inherent in high-end financial markets 🙂
One of the biggest aspects of television talent shows. Those appalling auditions in the early stages. Isn’t it sad that those so confident in their star quality despite mediocre or no talent did not have friends who told them that they were shite at it? If you support someone in doing something you know they are no good at because it’s their dream, you’re letting a friend down in the worst way: letting them live a lie.
Another lie from that place: the use of the word ‘reality’ in connection with many of the programmes that clutter our channels.
I dislike lying, despite it being my stock in trade and having been an egregious liar in my youth. These days I would rather omit than lie. Say nothing and say why: “I’m silent because the only other alternative is to lie.”
So, is there a lesson from my maundering? Yes.
A lie is like every other tool that man has been injuring himself with since he told his rival that the sabre-tooth had left the cave. 😀 It is only a tool. It can be used for good or evil. Use it with care and be absolutely honest with yourself as to the use you put it to each time you use it.
Finally, in one way a lie can be regarded as a loaded gun. Never use one on yourself. The gun could kill you and will injure you, but unless deceased you will recover and adapt to any permanent detriment. A maiming in your mind will fuck you up forever and you may never know the full extent of the damage.