THE BEST POLICY

To Tell The Truth, Rich Paschall

At times it may seem okay to tell an “innocent little lie.” You may want to “protect” someone from the truth. You may not want to hurt them. You may want to save bad news for a “better time.”  Maybe it is not the other person who can’t handle the truth. Maybe you’re the one with the problem.

Of course, we may think it is perfectly fine to tell children little lies, or even big ones, because we don’t want to hurt them or crush their fantasies. We may wish to wait until the right time to tell children there’s no Santa Claus. (I’m sorry if no one told you before now.) You may even want to keep the fantasy of the Easter Bunny alive, or the Great Pumpkin. Some children’s holidays are built on stories that are exaggerated or simply untrue.

superheroes

The issue of life and death looms as a major area around which to toss around lies. “Where do babies come from?” might cause lies because parents are uncomfortable with the topic.  It may be the same with “Where does the dog, parakeet or Aunt Martha go when she dies?” There could be plenty of stories handed out to cover that. Eventually children stop asking because they know parents are lying. At a certain age, they may even be bold enough to call them on it.

When does the time come when we dispense with little lies in favor of the truth?  When should we just tell children the real story, no matter how awkward or painful?  That is probably best decided on a case by case basis, but what if the lies go on and on?

Does the legacy of lies lead to people who grow up thinking it is okay to lie?  Perhaps some tell so many lies to protect their children, it becomes habit long after the necessity passes.  Maybe children learn that in some situations it is just alright to lie and therefore they adopt the habit themselves.  After all, the message was sent at a young age is that there are times when it is perfectly fine if we don’t tell the truth.

Few doubt the government lies to us. If they say it’s for the national good, does that make it okay?

The polarization of the America and its political parties seems to come, at least in part, from the lies each side is telling.  It is bad enough that members of the general public knowingly post and repost items on social media material they know is untrue, but politicians and their supporters do the same and most of us find it infuriating. Do you believe everything your elected official tells you? Really?

In a world made up of “pretty little liars,” do we trust anyone?  Perhaps you have seen the syndicated television show “Cheaters.” In it a spouse or a least a mate has come to suspect that the other person has been telling lies and wants the Cheaters detectives to find out the truth. I have never seen an episode where the one being investigated was not lying to their mate.  Yes, I have seen the show too often. It’s like watching a train wreck. You know it’s not going to end well, but you can’t keep from looking.

You know when it’s okay to lie to your spouse or close friends? Never. Aside from the story you told to pull off a surprise birthday party or a spectacular marriage proposal, the answer is never. If you believe it’s okay “to protect the friendship,” then you are not as close as you think.

When a friend and I had an issue to sort out early in our friendship, we ended the conversation saying the only thing that could hurt our friendship was not telling the truth. Any problem could be overcome. We declared honesty as the only policy.

So less than a year later, in a beer hall in Germany, my friend asked me a personal question that I was not prepared to answer.  I thought about it only for a few seconds as the conversation about honesty replayed in my head, and I told him the truth. Then he wanted to know why I never said anything, so I told him that too. And it was fine. It may have been a surprise and the reason may not have sounded good, but it was the truth. I may never tell him everything, but the importance of friendship means lies are not told. 

A friendship built on a foundation of truth
will not crumble.



Categories: Anecdote, Education, truth

Tags: , , , , , ,

10 replies

  1. I’m not against telling someone who’s deathly ill that they look well, especially if what you are comparing them to is their probable death. I never told my son there WAS a Santa Claus, but I didn’t disabuse him of it, either. I figured he’d work it out — and he did. By the time they hit kindergarten, they’ve doped out that all that wrapping paper and ribbon in the guest room probably mean that mom and dad are Santa, but they don’t care — as long as they get what they want. With children, you have to be careful, tread softly, and try to not brutalize them with too much truth when what they need is a happy holiday. Parenthood is a balancing act. So is grandparenthood.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s spot on! We do tell unnecessary lies and then we are caught in their trap. Love and friendship cannot be built on lies.

    Liked by 1 person

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