Truth or Lies

I had a little while back somebody who kept asking me – based on a comment I made on a forum – if I condone lying. “Of course not”, I answered… but then I started thinking. I could come up with lots of situations where a lie would be more appropriate than the truth. A depressive friend who tells you that if she ever catches her husband cheating would comit suicide, and you find out that he, indeed, cheats on her. Would you blurt it out? A family member who asks you with hope in their eyes, after a cancer-check “What did the doctor say?” and the doctor didn’t have anything good to say… Would you blurt it out?! If you see somebody ugly by all measures, would you tell them straight to their face? Don’t give me that “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” – I’ve seen people that could be considered ugly by any beholder. If truth and lies bear positive and negative connotations, then what should have been my answer?
Then it dawn onto me: truth or lies are simply tools, social tools. What is important is to choose the right tool for the task. But how can we do that?! Easier said than done. I am not sure this is the only answer but I would pick the one that has benefits for the others, not for us.
I did cheat on my wife in the first years of marriage. Why?! That’s a long story but let’s leave it at “I was young and stupid”. I even told her, taking great pride in my honesty. Later, I did realize that I was telling the truth to get away from the remorse I felt. If I have had her best interest in mind, as there was no way she could have ever find out, I would have stopped doing it and learn to live with the shame of what I did.
Each case is separate and to answer precisely where to use truth and where lies is as impossible as to answer the question: when should I use a hammer and when a screwdriver?! Even in the examples listed above, the truth might be a better answer under certain circumstances.

1 Comment

  • andi

    April 20, 2011 at 8:43 am Reply

    Well, I offered a way (something that works for me) to figure out when one should use the “hammer of the truth” and when the “screwdriver of the lie”… Introspection and analysis could definitely help define the problem.

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