Would I Lie to You?

This Hump Day Hmm…talk about truth, honesty and lying—yourself, your kids, from a personal or parenting point of view, how you deal with it and how important it is, as well as loopholes or any other aspect you want to cover. For more takes on this topic, visit Julie at Using My Words

Raising kids is hard. Raising good, honest kids is even harder. Little kids tend to look at things in such absolute terms. So when you tell them that lying is wrong, they will accept that at face value.

And then you lie in front of them.

“Mommy, why did you tell that guy on the phone that Daddy wasn’t here?”

“Well, sweetie, it was a telemarketer, and Daddy is not only busy but just doesn’t care about that product, so I saved your Daddy from having to talk to him.”

“But Mommy! That’s…..LYING!”

And so begins the slow slide into ambiguity.

We all accept the social lie. We’ve all done it. Don’t deny it. You know, when you get the gift you don’t want and you just smile graciously and accept it and then post about it on your blog and get caught…oh wait, that last part is just me. We even encourage our kids to do that with Aunt Martha (and I don’t have an Aunt Martha I’m just using this as an example) when she gives them a package of Underoos for Easter or some other totally absurd gift. I learned a great way out of this one during baby showers: say “Wow! What a gift! I’ve never seen anything like it before. Where did you get this?” and then you know where to return it. 🙂 But I digress…

There’s nothing wrong with the social lie, right? Or is there?

Let’s think about this for a moment. Why do we even tell the social lie? Usually to protect someone’s feelings (Does this dress make my butt look big?), get out of something slightly unpleasant (I’m sorry, I can’t make lunch today, something came up.), or to make something go a little more smoothly (Oh, that’s already taken care of. I sent that this morning).

What happens when the social lie goes global?

Protecting someone’s feelings: “Those guys weren’t really Saudis.”

Getting out of something unpleasant: “We can fix the deficit without a massive increase in taxes.”

Making something go more smoothly: “We’ll find evidence of WMD.”

Maybe those seem like extreme examples, but it really is a slippery slope. And why is it a slippery slope? Because, in the immortal words of Jack Nicholson’s character in A Few Good Men, we can’t handle the truth.

Do you really want to know that your butt looks big in that dress? Or that your friend just doesn’t want to have lunch with you that day after all? We use the lying as a pretense of sparing people’s feelings. So is it any wonder that the Powers That Be might think the same way? That we don’t really want to know why they are doing certain things, even if those things have a huge effect on our lives? But it is such a catch-22. If you were to say that someone’s butt looked big in that dress, you might find yourself with alternate sleeping arrangements that evening. Would you really elect someone who tells you that they will have to raise taxes in order to reduce the deficit?

So where does that leave us? Lying is wrong. I totally agree with that. But we’ll always do it and we’ll always accept it. Why? Because we really can’t handle the truth. And until that changes, we can’t expect people to act any differently.

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