Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Wall to wall. for debate - is all lying wrong?

 Yes - another day of sunshine all the way.   Living as I do in a rather hilly area, this kind of weather always worries me in case it ends in storms and flooding.   Climate change is no doubt the culprit and I don't for one moment suggest it is a figment of imagination.   But when we have a rotten Summer, as we so often do - I do tend to hear people my age complaining that the Summers are not like they were when we were kids.   How every Summer was hot for weeks on end.  I suppose memory is a funny thing.

However, that is not what I wish to raise today.   I watched five minutes (on the News) of Dominic Cummings.   I shall not watch the whole thing on tonight's programme, I don't suppose we shall ever know the whole truth.   But it did set me thinking about lying.   I am not speaking here necessarily about 'important' lying, although that in itself is a matter for debate - isn't all lying wrong?

So - m y question today is 'have you ever lied?'   You obviously don't have to own up to it - in fact of course if you are an inveterate liar then you will obviously lie and say no.   So let's think about the question in a different way - theoretically speaking is it always wrong to lie?

There are white lies:   You are in a dress shop with your best friend and she comes out of the changing room to show you a dress she is contemplating buying:  "Does my bum look big in this?"  Bearing in mind that she hasn't yet bought the dress then I think it is kinder to say "Yes" if it does.   If on the other hand she has bought the dress, is wearing it for an important occasion then surely a white lie,a fib if you like, is surely kinder - "No - you look lovely in it" fits the bill and does nobody any harm.  I am sure we have all been guilty of this kind of fib at one time or another.

But many 'major' lies are not necessarily spoken anyway.   In the case of Cummings versus Johnson we are never going to know the truth.   Maybe the truth lies somewhere in between.

Oh dear.   I think I have opened up a can of worms here and I need to put the lid on quickly.   So just let's say - let he/she who has never ever lied under any circumstances - in words or in behaviour which amounts to the same thing - step forward and take the Gold Medal.


29 comments:

The bike shed said...

Perhaps another way to look at it is to recognise that truth (and lying) comes in different forms and severities. 'Brute lying' if you like is deliberate deception - knowing the facts to be one way and deliberately misleading another to believe otherwise. More subtle is lying about our preferences and opinions - which we often omit or soften for reasons of politeness or sensitivity, as in the example of the dress. Here we are not denying or misrepresenting true facts - we are carefully judging the strength and benefit of pressing our opinions on another, in the knowledge that they are after all, just one point of view. Perhaps the best answer to 'do I look good in this dress?' is something more like 'well do you feel good in wearing it, and how do you think you look, because that's what matters most?'

Derek Faulkner said...

I feel sure that we have all lied at some time and at times it is often excused as diplomacy, such as your example of telling somebody they look good when in fact they look bloody awful.As far as that example goes, I stand in the tell the truth camp, which has not always endeared me to my wives in the past.

Marcia LaRue said...

I shall not lie ... yes, I have lied in the past, have in the present, and probably will in the future, as well! Not big, hurtful lies ... mostly in the "white lie" category!
I always look to be open and honest, however, in judging a particular situation ... you do what you know is best and, if a little white lie will not hurt ... then I think it is appropriate!

the veg artist said...

Guilty on a small scale, but then I expect that most people have lied in the "How are you?"/"Fine" variety, but there are so many aspects to that, time, circumstance, familiarity, or the wish for privacy. And who hasn't lied about a badly-chosen Christmas present? Sometimes perhaps we do lie to be kind!
In politics there can be restrictions on how much information can be given out, so it often appears as lying, or we can say "Well, they can't both be right, so someone must be lying." (I'm not going to comment on Cummings!)
But some people lie to themselves, or at least, refuse to admit the truth, and perhaps that's one of the saddest lies of all.

Granny Sue said...

It would be the rare person who hasn't told at least one lie in their life, I think. I try my best to be truthful, but there are times when it's kinder not to be. For example, my father talking about women's role in the Catholic church. I could have said that I disagreed with him, but he was 83 and in poor health and what would it gain to argue? Then there's the friends who have been visiting lately, and had to stay with us for a week--kept saying they didn't want to impose, and of course I had to make the polite "oh no you're fine" response. When really, unexpected visitors staying that long, well, yes, it was an imposition but I couldn't very well say so and turn them out. Or the 100+ year old comport he broke--"no worries, it's just glass" while my heart was breaking because I so loved it. So yes, guilty of not being truthful all the time.

Angela said...

I know I have not always been 100%truthful. And on reflection I think I was usually in the wrong to have done so. What concerns me is the apparent lack of conscience, and culture of untruth that seems so prevalent right now. If a man can lie to his wife, and to his Queen, why should I believe he is telling the truth to the rest of us?

EM Griffith said...

There are times when it's a kindness to fib a little, if you can't simply deflect the question. I often opt for the latter. Then there are those with the habit of exaggeration to the point of a lie. The neighbor whose husband told another neighbor she was studying to be a legal assistant, while she told people she was going to law school. A lie? I suppose that could be argued. When people in authority lie so as not to spark panic, or in order to induce panic (depending on the reasoned objective), the result is loss of trust. But that could be said about anyone who is deliberately misleading. Even with the best of motives. Don't you think?

Ellen D. said...

I have lied. Who hasn't?

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

I wouldn't believe anyone who said they'd never lied - and I certainly wouldn't believe any politician, whatever they said. Actually there are some people who never lie and I worked with one of them. He was autistic and just blurted out the truth no matter how embarrassing. He had few friends and was considered to have learning difficulties, though in other ways he could be quite smart. In an earlier age his family would have had him committed to an asylum. Left unsupervised he'd have probably got beaten up fairly regularly. Probably better to lie occasionally.

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

There are people that believe telling a lie can be a matter of protecting the truth. Not telling a friend her dress makes her look like she needs a wide load warning sign, protects the friendship.

Rachel Phillips said...

I am a blurter out of the truth sort of person I'm afraid and find telling even the slightest fib immensely difficult.

JayCee said...

Yes, I have fibbed. A couple of whoppers too.

Librarian said...

The motivation behind a lie is key for me here; as some of you have said, sometimes it is kinder not to blurt out the truth if the only result would be someone hurting.
As for politicians - I find it amazing how "the media" always act so surprised when they uncover a lie told by a politician. Don't we all actually expect that of them more or less anyway? They promise us the world until we have given them our votes, but how much of those promises were they really intending to keep in the first place? Lies, too.

jinxxxygirl said...

Lying used to get me in trouble when i was a kid... I didn't want to get in trouble so i lied and got in even bigger trouble... yeah took me awhile to understand that lying is never the way to go.. Now as an adult and in my 50's i probably tell the truth to a fault.. I tell the truth even where a little white lie would do no harm.. My word is who i'am.. Am i perfect ... ofcourse not ... do i ever tell a so called 'white lie' sure... But i try very hard not to. And i don't lie about the important things and ofcourse we all have to decide what the 'important things' are... as i'm sure they differ with all of us.. I'll tell you a story...

I had just gotten a job at the 'state park' there in Arkansas... Brand new..might have been my first day even.. I like to paint rocks.. pebbles... and leave them in places where people will find them and maybe it will brighten their day.. So i did that on my way into the building.. i left a painted rock that said 'just breathe' on it... Maybe a sign of the nervousness i was feeling on my first day... Well shortly after the day began a Ranger walked into the Visitor Center and said look what i found... and she held up MY ROCK... and she went on and on about how wrong it was for the environment to do that etc.. and she was going to use it as an example to visitors about what not to do.. etc... Well on the inside i'm just squirming... its MY ROCK.. So with the whole office standing there i raise my hand , take a deep breath and chime in... 'Its my rock'... everyone turns around and looks at me.. 'the newbie' and ... busts out laughing.. I got several.. i can't believe you owned up to that... lol and i have to say telling the truth was not a mistake... I didn't get fired and honestly i think it endeared me to everyone.. they got a little glimpse into the type of person i was... I don't think its ever a good idea to lie.. Be brave... its your truth.. own up to it...

Hard up Hester said...

I lie, little lies and big ones, sometimes it's just simpler, especially when dealing with Steve's mental illness or with my bipolar daughter.

My ex BIL always prided himself on how truthful he was but actually it was just an excuse for being rude and obnoxious.

Helen said...

No Gold Medal for me ... I hope the lies I have told in my almost eighty years have not done irreparable damage. I never meant that. Thanks for a thought provoking post.

Heather said...

I don't think I have ever told any serious lies, but would still tell a small one to prevent someone being hurt or embarrassed.

Red said...

It's sometimes called bending the truth. We tend to make something look favorable to our point of view. Then there are those who will not admit to something they are accused of. Some people lie to their advantage. I bent the truth when I complemented my students. some of then needed something to spur them on.

CharlotteP said...

I am sometimes guilty of lying to save someonw else's feelings, but like Jinxxxygirl, hope never to lie to save my own skin...it will come back to bite you.

RunNRose said...

When I was teaching second grade many years ago, the subject of lying came up. I explained to the children that the problem with telling a lie, is that lying becomes a habit. Very easily done. I told them that they should always be careful to tell me the truth, because if they told me one lie, I might never believe them about anything. I really got a big laugh soon afterward----maybe the next day. Children were lined up in the hall at the water fountain. They were not supposed to talk. I came by and heard talking. I asked, "Who is talking in the hall?" My goodness, every hand went up!

Debby said...

Everyone lies. It's a fact of life.

What you have to look at is the impetus for the deceit. You would hurt someone's feelings by saying a negative comment about their appearance, or what they are wearing, and so you find something to compliment them on. Seems to me that if they feel good about themselves, that's more important than the truth.

Are you lying to deceive, to mislead, to curry favor, to hurt? Now THAT'S a problem.

Joanne Noragon said...

What a lovely run of responses.

Susan said...

Often others do not want raw truth, especially if it is unpleasant. If softening a blow by side stepping full on truth is lying, I think this happens all the time. Having to choose being kind or telling the truth, I will choose to be kind in many circumstances. Telling the truth using statistics and hard evidence is also important to me.

Cro Magnon said...

I'm sure I've told a few porkies in my time, but I had it drummed into me when I was small that I should ALWAYS tell the truth. I suppose it is because of this that I really hate liars and lying; especially when they are used against people (which usually is the case).

thelma said...

I am trying to remember when I lied last and can't think of one. When I thought about it the answer came back rather than speak, hold back, and swallow what you are about to say but is thinking the lie as bad as speaking the lie?

The Weaver of Grass said...

Oh Thelma - there's food for thought.
And more food for thought there Cro


Joanne - you say it all - your short answer is what I would say _ love it when everyone responds in this way. The trouble is that I have to wait for this sort of post to occur to me and it doesn't always happen.

Thank you to everyone.

Carruthers said...

Johnson does a good enough job of discrediting himself, with or without Cummings' help. Anyone who followed the news attentively last year knows he made light of the crisis, always locking down too late and relaxing restrictions too early. He is responsible for the deaths of thousands.

The problem for his opponents is that despite all his flaws, people still vote for him and the tory party. To get sacked for dishonesty, as Johnson was, from a job as a journalist takes some doing. And if you're taped helping to arrange for someone to be beaten up, as everyone knows Johnson was, you should be up before the beak, not holding public office.

The sad thing is that it's not really about Johnson. It's about the core beliefs of many conservatives who, like Johnson, are quite indifferent to the fate of the vulnerable. That alone should lose them elections. The sad thing about Britain is that it doesn't.

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