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Lying About -- Writer's Poke #441

So how often do you lie? And what do you lie about?

1.      “How are you today?”

“I’m fine, thanks.” Maybe you’re not fine at all, but the social convention is to say that you are. It’s a friendly gesture, and it’s almost the equivalent of shaking hands and saying “hello.” But if you say you’re fine when you’re not, are you lying?


2.      “Do I look good in this dress?” or “How do you like the meal?”

“You look good” or “It tastes good.” If these responses are not true, what is the benefit to telling the person the truth? Is it worth hurting someone’s feelings? Sometimes we lie to protect people we love from being hurt. Is this really a bad thing? After all, we know when the people we love want to know the truth, and we also recognize when they don’t want to know the truth, don’t we? The above questions may be examples of when people don’t want to know the truth, or at least don’t mind if we lie to protect their feelings.


3.      “Are you hiding any Jews in your house?”

“No.” Think about World War II for a moment. Many people were willing to risk their lives to protect the innocent lives of others. Obviously it was dangerous, but if they believed they had an absolute moral imperative to always tell the truth, all a Nazi agent would have to do is ask a simple question, and the gig would be up. This is a much stronger version of example number 2. It’s possible, then, that a lie can save someone’s life.

What is the last lie you told, and what purpose did it serve? Have you ever told a “purposeless” lie (e.g. “Gee, why did I just say that when I know it’s not true, and there was really no purpose for me saying it?”)

“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” – V. I. Lenin


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