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Is it Okay to Lie? How Honest Should We Be?

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I was sitting at a cafe, sipping my latte, when I heard a kid ask his mom why was honesty the best policy – something about what his teacher said when it came to lying and being honest. Listening to their conversation got me thinking.

“Honesty is the best policy.” Is it always though? 

Is being completely honest and open with everyone always a good idea? Are we never supposed to lie to anyone, even if it is to make someone feel better? 

honesty

If a child comes up to you, asking if her drawings are pretty or not, would you mock the little girl because she couldn’t get the tree right? Or would you simply smile at her, and encourage her to draw more? I believe that it is ok to lie as long as the intention is good considering that the person cannot perceive the truth. It is acceptable to lie whenever that person doesn’t have the maturity to understand the truth.

‘The truth’ itself is an individual concept. There are a lot of differing opinions, different backgrounds, and different perceptions of the same fact. What may be true to you may not be the same for me. Everybody will appreciate your honest, straight-forward nature as long as you don’t give them one of your truth doses. 

Let’s take an example of the most common situation: ‘Do I look fat in this dress?’ Somewhere in the back of your head, you know that you are looking fat, but just when someone else points it out to you, you hate it. But if you like yourself in that dress, others’ opinions cannot bother you. Your perception is your reality. 

The amount of honesty depends upon our relationship intimacy levels. How close are we to the person? Because we are no one to trouble random people with our honest opinions and thoughts. Not everyone is going to acknowledge our radical honesty. If you are honest with everyone, people won’t trust you to keep their secrets.  

Ironically, this means they won’t be honest with you. The closer you are to the person, the more truth you must tell. But, the most intimate connection you have is with your own self. Never, ever lie to yourself. Tell yourself the whole truth, nothing but the truth. We all occasionally engage ourselves in the self-lie-denial. We are sometimes so afraid of the truth that we refuse to accept it; we chose not to recognize the reality, a defence mechanism we all use to erase uncomfortable memories and situations. Sometimes our heads need to admit what our hearts already know.

We can’t build relationships on the basis of a lie. But, white lies are harmless. Small untruths told to spare someone’s feelings or from politeness are just fine. Even if we are to tell someone some harsh truth, we should go about it calmly, making sure that we don’t upset the other person. 

So, is it okay to lie? Yes, ‘everybody lies and everybody dies.’ The truth is that not everything is black and white, grey is what we need to learn to embrace.

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