This post is in response to a daily writing prompt found here.
The text of the prompt is:
As kids, we’re told, time and again, that lying is wrong. Do you believe that’s always true? In your book, are there any exceptions?
This is an interesting question! And for me, more complex than you might think.
In the space in which I work honesty and integrity are job requirements. We are even subjected to periodic polygraph examinations to verify our ongoing integrity. So I cannot simply sit here are say, “I think lying your ass off non-stop is cool!” (For the record, I don’t). I also cannot claim to have never spoken a word in my life that contained nothing but the stark, naked, truth. We all color things. We all hedge. We have all said, “No officer, I don’t know how fast I was going”, or “No honey, those pants don’t make your ass look fat”. We have all said, “I don’t know” when we did know, or , “No baby, I don’t think your sister is pretty.”
We all lie. If you’re important enough, like say the President of the United States, then you “misspoke”. But any way you slice it, something other than the truth escapes our lips at various and sundry times throughout our lives.
The author of the question did in fact hit it on the head. My mother beat it in to my head, time after time, day after day. Liars are the worst form of scum.
I believe she was correct. All forms of communication rely on the ability of the listener to believe that what the other individual is saying to you is true. Absent that belief, communication is meaningless. So it behooves us to speak honestly.
However, there is a level of honesty commonly referred to as being “brutally honest”. In my experience the times when brutality is a good thing are few and far between. So I believe there must be a balance. Not necessarily simply when it is our desire to spare another’s feelings. Hurt feelings are not the end of the world. But there are times when the good that comes from lying outweighs the moral imperative to be honest.
Consider for example those people who hid Jews from the Nazis during WWII. If the SS came knocking on the door and asked the owner of the home if they were harboring any Jews, the honest answer would have been “Yes”. But who would have been served by the truth?