As usual I had quite a busy weekend. Lots of hanging out time with family and friends. It was…mostly…quite enjoyable. However, a surprise party turned into an emotional collapse and then I had heard of another event that caused someone close to me grief. What is it about little white lies? When is it ok to NOT tell the truth?
Every parent teaches their child that lying is abhorrent. You must never, ever, ever lie. Then you go shopping with mom and you see a man with a cane and no leg. “Mom look! That man only has one leg!” The child, innocently pointing and exclaiming this at the top of their lungs. Everyone looks. The parent is mortified. The man with one leg…well, he has probably heard this from other children and is mostly unaffected. Well, in the old days, that would lead to a good beating from parent to child. Ouch! Why? The child told the truth right? Now, try to explain to this child why telling the truth in this particular instance is bad. Hmmm, kind of hard. Parents usually fall back on how badly that person is going to feel if you point out that there is something different about them.
Ok, now the child gets older and starts to learn more and more about the good lies and the bad lies. Bad lies hurt people and good lies don’t right? Well, not necessarily. Sometimes telling the truth might actually help a person see some of their shortcomings. Have you ever watched those reality shows on tv where a person sings their heart out because they have been told by everyone they love that their voice and singing is “beautiful”? Lying didn’t really help that person did it. Not only are they shocked and embarrased, but hearing the truth hurts more than the untruths they heard all their lives.
Surprise parties…hmmm, another tricky one. Well, it’s a surprise so you aren’t allowed to the tell the person that there is a surprise party being planned for them. Now, what if the person really despises surprises? Yes, there are some people who really dislike them. Those invited and those throwing the party are doing it to give the person a happy … well …surprise! My most memorable backfiring of a surprise was my parent’s 25th anniversary party. Just us kids were present. SURPRISE! And what did my parents do? They turned around and went home. Yup…cross my heart..they really did. Why? Because they don’t like surprises. It’s an ambush to them. (Their 50th anniversary is coming up this year and believe me…I am making sure there ain’t no “ambush” this year).
Then there are the non-lies. You know, where you know something, but you aren’t allowed to tell because it’s up to another person to actually be the first to announce it. A good example is a happy couple finds out they are going to have a child. Well, you find out but you can’t tell anyone because that is their news to tell. So, why would someone get mad at you for knowing first and not telling? It’s not your place to say right?
So, to tell the truth…or not. That is quite the question and the answers vary. I have found that given certain situations, lying is acceptable, while in others, it is not. How do you know whether to tell the truth or not? Again, a tough question. How well do you know the person? Does this person trust you? Will the recipient’s life be drastically changed in a negative way if you tell them the truth? Will your conscience be clear after telling the truth. (Broccoli in your teeth…totally would tell the truth!)
In the end, I have found that my guidance to truth or lie is this: If the nugget of information I am going to share with this person will only create a hugely negative effect on their lives then I withhold the truth. If I think that their lives will benefit from my “truth” then I share what information I have. Telling truths in kindness is what I believe to be best.
To tell the truth, telling the truth is usually the best way to go. And that’s the truth.