Monday, March 21, 2011

Honesty, Part Two

People seem interested in talking about honesty, so I figured I'd say more on the subject. I personally believe that you should never lie, ever. I actually came to this conclusion in second grade, when I read a biography of Abraham Lincoln, which said he never lied.  I thought that was really neat, and I wanted to be just like Abe, so I decided I would never lie, either.

A lot of people think you should generally tell the truth at all times, except when it's not important. That is, they think it's okay to tell little white lies, to avoid hurting people's feelings.  The idea is that it's okay to tell little white lies because they are about unimportant things, and they have the good intention of making someone feel better.  People usually give the example of a friend asking for your opinion on her new (but totally ugly) clothes.  In that case, it seems like it's better to tell a little white lie, because if you tell the truth your friend will be upset.

But in my experience, people are more mature than you'd expect, and their feelings don't get hurt that easily.  Nobody's going to cry because I told them their shirt is ugly.  So I don't tell little white lies, either.  They're not worth the trouble.

Look at it this way.  People say you're not talking about anything important, so it doesn't matter if you lie.  But if what you're talking about is really not that important, then why should you be afraid to tell the truth?  The argument goes both ways.  If you're in an ambiguous situation, where it doesn't matter if you tell the truth or not, I still say you should always tell the truth.

Actually, is there such a thing as an ambiguous situation, where it doesn't matter if you tell the truth or not?  I'm not so sure.  Actually, scratch that thought.  There is no such situation, where human action is completely divorced from morality.  Whatever you do or say has moral consequences.  So I guess there really is no situation where it doesn't matter if you lie or not.

In general, I have found that if you tell the truth all the time, you don't hurt other people's feelings all that much.  No, being honest with other people is actually quite easy.  It's being honest with yourself that's difficult.  For example, I'm afraid to look stupid in class or something like that--afraid to be honest about the fact that I don't know something--and I feel like lying to cover up my ignorance. For me personally, that's when I get most tempted to tell lies: when they're about me and my faults.

I have more to say, but six paragraphs is enough for today.

11 comments:

S and D Hobbit said...

Honestly, ;) for me, I don't like telling "White Lies", so I don't. I typically am against lying, but when it comes to a life and death situation such as the holocaust, I'd have to say I view that as an exception. If I'm hiding a bunch of people in my basement, I'm not going to tell a person, who I view as bad, that information. If I were the person in the basement, I sure would hope the person talking to the "Bad guy" would lie or do something similar.
Just my thoughts...

Anonymous said...

I think S and D may have found a circumstance where lying may be the better option.
Of course, I would certainly hope holocaust situations don't come about every day.
I personally agree that you should not lie, but I can understand that there might be situations where it would be beneficial not to tell the whole truth, or avoid being blunt.
For example, if someone has a disease, let's say cancer, and the doctors tell you they have less than a 50% chance of surviving, it may not be the best option to break it to the patient this way. Being that up front about it may reduce their drive to fight the disease. It is still important to tell the truth about their situation being quite serious as this will also affect how they handle their treatment options, just not in a way that takes away their sense of hope.
But aside from very extreme situations like these, there is no justification for lying or hiding the truth.
~Emily

Dany Drew said...

I think Emily is right. Lying is never good, except in critical situations. Little "White Lies" always lead to BIGGER "White Lies". So if you lie once, what's the chance you won't be tempted again..?

dr.david-dan said...

I get too to this conclusion not to lie, ever. I started from today but is very hard. I have problems with my girl-friend now, because when she came at school wearing a new dress she asks me if I love her new look and I say: ''Well.... how I can say it and not hurt you. Ummm... sorry you look nasty in this dress.'' And she started to say:''What?!?'' And one more thing that my girl-friend Cristina asked me what I think about her: ''I love you very much. Look, I know you don't understand me but is not like that love that big people use it." And then she says: ''What?!?" Yeah is hard to say the truth all the time but i think i need some advice pls.

Anonymous said...

Well it is not true that you have to be honest ALL the time. what i meant was that even lies can be useful.
like in nancy drew, nancy lies from time to time because she did not want to get into trouble. But if he told the truth, she would be kicked out(or Fired)and she would not be able to find the culprit. so it is not really good to be honest. so you have to know if at that time and situation is lying or telling the truth the best thing to do. that is at least my concept of looking into this.

dr.david-dan said...

Thx anonymous! Now I think I will drop this thing of telling the truth until I die and do what a normal person do(I don't mean that people who say the truth all the time are not normal). I think I will be like Nancy some times. I will tell the truth when I know I am not in trouble if I tell it and tell a lie when I am sure I can get out of trouble or something. I mean all the times I am like Nancy because I like the danger, I am curios and etc. Thanks again Anonymous! ;-))

Stephanie said...

I thought of a situation where it is okay to lie: when the person at Panera asks you what your name is... that doesn't matter at all. :)

Anonymous said...

So lying is sin. So I say don't do it. Choosing your words carefully is what I would do in a problem like S and D said.

Balin said...

I agree that we should be honest at all times, but I still have some questions. Suppose your girlfriend says, "How do I look in this dress?" and the dress is hideous. Would rewording the truth to "soften the blow" be acceptable or not? In this example, saying something like "That dress looks awful on you" or even "That dress looks awful" would be honest, but not as brutal (as she would perceive the dress as ugly, not herself). This seems like a gray area - any opinions?

Sparksbet said...

I think that one should tell the truth in almost every situation. There are a few situations, however, where lying would be necessary. I agree with S and D Hobbit's example (sweet name, btw) and I also provide one more - in Exodus, the midwives lied to the Pharoah about why they weren't killing the Hebrews babies, and God blessed them for it. So clearly lying in a FEW select circumstances isn't wrong.

Anonymous said...

This is what I think: If someone's life is at stake, like S and D suggests, then lying is probably the better decision. But if it's something little, like say someone asks for your opinion on something you know you're not going to see eye-to-eye on, you don't even need that little white lie. You just acknowledge your opinion in comparison to theirs. For example, if someone asks for your opinion on their shoes, and YOU think they're hideous, instead of lying, you say: "To be honest, I don't really like it. But if you like it, that's all that matters." After all, they're not yours. But if someone gives you something as a gift, then that's a different matter altogether. Even then you don't have to lie directly.