We are franker towards others than towards ourselves.
- Friedrich Nietzsche
What is a lie?
The Merriam – Webster dictionary definitions of ‘lie’ is as follows; to make an untrue statement with the intent to deceive.
Going by that definition, the act of telling a lie boils down to the intent behind the deception.
Regardless of whatever argument supports or do not supports the habit of lying – we are social beings. No man exists by himself and because of this, we have to get along with each other. Being radically honest is not the way to go about that. This is because at the end of the day the things that matter most are not what can be physically quantified. Things like feeling and emotions. How do we make others feel and what impressions did we leave? What would we be remembered by when we leave the room?
I listened to Lorrie's podcast
where she narrated how she has always lived a radically honest life, she always told the truth regardless of how it made the next person feel. She explained how being radically honest has changed her life - This also made friends and family become uncomfortable around her. Now the questions - is she really living her best life? Is her best friend comfortable with her around or does she care about her opinions? Is her marital life solid? If the answers to these questions do not revolve around love, peace, and happiness then I think she has lost the ultimate goal in her approach with radical honesty.
This is to say that it all comes down to reason.
WHY? Why will you tell someone ‘hey, I think you’re ugly,’ when this would probably make them feel awful. Just like another gentleman by the name Gandhi said in the podcast – we should not blindly think that honesty is the best and only policy but rather why we should be honest and why sometimes we have to tell lies. Lorrie said that if you are not 100 percent honest with the people you are in a relationship with, then what is the point of that relationship?
Well, honesty is welcomed
when you have to put your loved ones in the right direction, give them great advice even if it may not be pleasing and in fact be a mirror to them. But when this is not the case, and the ultimate is protecting their feelings - then that should be protected. Living with the radical honesty mentality is only a way of self-gratifying; to prove that one can live a brutal honest life. This in many ways is selfishness and ego.
When I was about four or five,
my mum noticed I enjoyed swallowing orange seeds when eating oranges. Swallowing these seeds could cause medical problems and there was no way she could stop giving me oranges. Squeezing the juice out would not help because I cried until I was given the real fruit. To put the fear of the danger of swallowing these seeds, mum told me that if I continued eating the seeds, an orange tree would sprout of my head. The imaginations of a child coupled with watching animations where trees could talk. I did not want to be like the talking trees on TV. So I stopped, and also advised my peers I saw eating oranges about the impending doom that would happen if they swallowed the seeds. Mum saw the greater good of telling that lie – to protect me.
Lorrie also mentioned that we tell white lies
not necessarily to avoid hurting people’s feelings but to protect our reputation and image. We all want to be liked. I do not understand how this is a bad thing. Sure, it is not a must for everyone to like you but why would you want people to see you as an insensitive person when you can avert that by simply being the opposite – a sensitive person. And what is so wrong in wanting to be liked? Who is getting hurt here?
In a hypothetical situation,
Mr. A is so brutally honest and speaks exactly whatever comes to his mind; flattery or not. Everybody knows Mr. A’s attitude. Many people in his circle think he is an unsympathetic and a selfish jerk; therefore they avoid him. What kind of relationship has Mr. A managed to carve out for himself and what has he gained from such a reputation?
Some people would also say that you can hurt people with the truth,
offend them, and then stick around until they get over it. I do not subscribe to this mentality because its ultimate goal may not work for everyone – relationships could forever be dampened. I strongly stand by Gandhi’s approach to lying. He mentioned that in philosophy there is no constant value of dishonesty or truth-telling. What determines lying or truth-telling to be bad or good is not the act rather what goal we want to achieve.
They say honesty is the way to live – a true virtue.
If lying is the only way for Lorrie to save her only child’s life in the face of danger, I wonder what she would do. It is easier to be so objective when one is on the other side, far away from threats.
Going by the dictionary definition – not saying what you think is not the same as lying. Think about it.