If I value you, I should be able to be honest with you. And that includes if I value you as a friend, lover, family member, or a part of the human race in the world I live. But the world is anything but black and white and neither is the concept of the truth. Much like an eyewitness account, the level of acceptable truthfullness varies amongst us all.
The truth as I see it can be quite different from the truth as you see it. But how is this possible? Simply put, our morals and values can vary and our life experiences allow us to view and interpret events in different ways. You may see a lie as a means to spare my feelings, where I view that same un-truth as a painful sleight and assault on my character. For everything that comes out of our mouths, there is reasoning behind it. The manner in which it is said, the words that are chosen all reflect the intent behind the statement. Some of us can read these cues, others chose to hear only words.
What is the real purpose behind the lie? Is it so we can raise our own self-worth at the expense of others? Is it just a malicious event with the only goal to harm someone else? It is all of those things and more, sometimes it is even self-protection. "I'm sorry I was speeding officer, I am late for a dentist appointment". Says he, "Here's your ticket ma'am, no-one rushes to go to the dentist." Maybe, I should have lied and said diarrhea :) lol Bottom line, is that most lies are told for purely selfish reasons.
Then there is the little white lie. Some don't see this as a lie but a common courtesy. A harmless tale, perhaps even beneficial. But sometimes in our hope to do good we hurt. In theory a little white lie should only be told when not knowing the truth is completely harmless. But who is to be the judge of that. "I'm on my way", we've all heard that one at one time or another - probably even said it. I worry, about the person I am waiting for or the person waiting for me. Worry is not something I consider harmless.
I think that there are ways to be truthful without hurting a persons feelings. Say a co-worker asks about an outfit/tie they are wearing. They want your opinion, they are talking the time to hear you. Do you lie and say "looks great" even if you think they look like a circus clown? Or do you find something positive to say amid the psychedelic ensemble. "The bright colours really bring out the colour of your eyes." Or "That shirt would really be great at the club on Friday." If someone tells me that something looks good on me, I will put it at the front of my selection of things to wear when I want to feel confident. If I have been lied to, I am playing the fool. I couldn't do that to someone else. I don't want it done to me. It's okay if not everything I chose is the best look for me. Sometimes, I wear stuff despite because its' comfortable or has some other meaning.
The understanding of the appropriateness of the art of deception doesn't get any clearer when you consider the politically correct version of a lie - the omission of the truth. Not an outright lie but not the truth either. Again intent is paramount in acceptable nature of this retort. Sometimes people get in your face and insist on answer to things that are simply none of their business. They may want to use the truth against you. If I have a romantic liaison, it is none of your business and so it's okay to say I went to bed early last night. Oh okay, that becomes a half truth :)
The half truth is my go to!
"Did you?" "Yes...but." Just because we chose to live a morally honest life does not mean that anyone has the right to every detail of our life simply because they have the nerve (or gall) to ask the question. Discretion is required in the question and response. Not an easy task and I suppose one of the reasons why celebrities and other personalities are coached before a live Q & A. And why so many of us are guilty of the "I opened my mouth and the truth came out" syndrome.
I've been called to task on my truthfullness. Too many times people have started a conversation reminding me that I don't like lying. I want to run and hide because I feel I am about to be put under the interrogation light as a bible is thrust into my hand. Self-protection is the cape of choice as I sweat and wait for the ball to drop. You might as well hook up the lie detector - because if I feel threatened the truth might slink and hide in a corner. The half truth works well for me in these instances. Not exactly a lie. Not exactly the whole truth.
The truth lies in utterer of the words. I would consider myself to be a bad liar but in reality I am a discretionary truth teller. Only what you need to hear when I want to share is all you'll get. That's a bit of social etiquette. Not everybody who you see on the street and says "Hi, How are you?" really wants to know how you are.
The importance of truthfullness is directly related to the importance of the person in our lives. Omissions of the truth, half truths, white lies have very little place in a healthy loving faithful relationship with mates, spouses, children, parents. Living a life with a partner and realizing that that once happy life is a lie would have to be the end of the game for me. I don't think I could look at myself in the mirror knowing I am living a lie.
I've always said that "Knowledge is Power". If I know the truth I can confront it and change or fix it (perhaps), if nothing else, I can deal with it. But maybe the most effective use of this mindset is in regards to parenting. Rest assured it sure made my life as a single mom a lot easier knowing I knew exactly what I was dealing with. Although that doesn't in anyway mean that I knew everything about my children's lives and experiences. There are certain rights of passage for young adults that are no ones business but their own. But I can honestly share my experiences and knowledge gained in the hopes I can guide them and promote responsible decision making when I am not there. But, if you skip class because you didn't study for the test, tell me before I get the phone call. We can study together and organize ourselves to make sure you take time to be prepared next time. If you get sent to the principal, I would like your version before I am called upon to support you - for as a parent, discipline is my job. Nobody likes to be caught unawares, embarrassed and with egg on their face. Situations will always arise but with an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect we can stand united and strong.
Do me a favour, if I have spinach in my teeth the next time you see me - tell me. And I'll let you know if you come out of the public restroom with toilet paper stuck to your shoe. With honesty on our side...we can be lifelong friends!
And thank you to that one student who embarrassed me in front of a hallway packed full of teenagers to let me know my skirt was tucked into my nylons exposing too much for the security cameras :)