When Is It (or is it ever) Okay To Lie?
I saw this question on Plinky a few months ago and immediately I thought, it’s never okay to lie, but is that the truth? Is honesty always the best policy? I was reading a couple of blog posts on honesty and perjury and the majority of people who commented agreed that honesty is the best policy and under no circumstance would they tell a lie.
Uh huh. I’ll tell you why I don’t believe this and I think people lie more often than they are willing to admit or even realize.
In the book The Day America Told the Truth, by James Patterson and Peter Kim it stated that “91 percent of Americans lie regularly. The majority of us find it hard to get through a week without lying and one in five can’t make it through a single day without bending the truth.”
Ninety-one percent! I don’t find that statistic surprising at all. It’s not always easy to know how one will react when the pressure is on. We lie to be polite, we lie to impress, we lie to avoid punishment, we lie to flatter, but not all lies are meant to be harmful. I believe people lie more often than they realize because white lies, i.e. the Stork, Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, etc. are socially acceptable, whereas bald-faced lies1 are not. White lies may appear to be harmless, but they are still lies, right?
Then there’s the lie by omission, we only tell half the truth. We omit certain facts, details or information leading someone to believe one thing when we know another to be true. Lying, even on a small scale, seems unavoidable.
We lie to our friends, we lie to strangers, we lie to our employer, we lie to ourselves and what did surprise me during my research for this post is that the majority of people we lie to are the ones we love the most. That’s sad, but I understand why that may be true.
I’m no beacon of truth, just in case you’re wondering. I have told lies I’m not particularly proud of, but I still consider myself a trustworthy person. Is it possible to be 100% honest all of the time, I say no, but there are ways to tactfully tell the truth, and without hurting someone’s feelings. I travel on this road as often as possible. While I don’t believe that most people are practice liars, I do believe a majority of people engage in some type of lying, daily, unless you happen to be George Costanza, then it’s not a lie if you believe it.
Is lying is the social lubricant that sustains a civil society or does “lying corrode trust and intimacy—the glue of a civil society?”2
In: Just Thinking · Tagged with: Lie, Lying, White lies