Lies, Lies! EVERYONE LIES! We all do it in one way or another. The differences lie (pun intended) in the consequences of the lie, the recipient of the lie, and the intent to which the speaker of the lie aims to mislead (consciously or not), and of course, my favorite, the reason for the lie. And of course … as you might have guessed, we’re getting a need met when we lie.
So exactly what need or needs ARE we getting met when we lie? The answer is that we use lies to increase the chance of us getting a given need met. We give verbal support by telling a lie. Or, we justify the need we seek to get met.
A word about institutions: because governments and other institutions don’t have needs (see my post Do Governments Have Needs?), that leaves only living things as having needs. Therefore the lies are told by the PEOPLE in those institutions, not by the institutions themselves.
Note: If you’ve been following along, you know that needs are the ownership AND responsibility of living beings … and for the purposes of this blog, humans. Note: emphasis on the word “RESPONSIBILITY“!
Another fact behind lying is that it’s easier to tell a lie than it is to tell the truth. We do this when we tell someone something we think they want to hear (Wow!, that new hairdo looks so cute on you! … a social media favorite of mine), or to spare them an unpleasant or hurtful feeling which would come as a result of hearing the absolute truth as we see it … (no, I didn’t see your wife at the bar with anyone else last night).
By labeling some of these “common or less serious” lies as “white lies” we forgive ourselves and others for telling them. It’s ok to tell a white lie … usually. What’s a black lie? What’s a grey lie?”
We all know the popular children’s meme: If you cross your 1st two fingers and hold them behind your back, it’s ok to tell a lie. We’ve even institutionalized lying about lying 😉
(I’ll dig into the specific needs being met, and by whom in a later post on lies.)
The justifications (reasons) are easy to see. The exact need … not so easy.
The following are considered “socially acceptable” lies (or untruths if we want to soften the energy of the word “LIE”).
“Honey, go to bed early because Santa is coming to give you a present tonight.”
“The dog ate my homework”.
“I have no money to lend you”.
“The check’s in the mail”.
“Cigarette smoking is not harmful to you”.
[claimed by advertisers and professionals during the time period 1789-2003 … but as recent as 2006]
… and even more lies …
“You don’t look a day over 25 … honestly!”
“Yes Mom, I’m still a virgin … sheesh!”
“I didn’t see that stop sign officer!”
“We have no apartments for rent Mr. & Mrs. Chin.”
“No your honor, I wasn’t close enough to make out any features.”
“ummm …. so I donated $5000 worth of furniture to charities last year.”
“I’m sorry, we found a candidate who is more qualified for the position.”
… my favorites …
“We don’t have your retirement funds. The economy is at fault.”*
“We have documented proof that Mr. Smith is a Communist sympathizer!”
“Those <Martians> are inferior, and a scourge on the planet. I think we need to eradicated them.”
“No we’re not building nuclear weapons.”
“We know there are weapons of mass destruction hiding there.”
“If you follow the rainbow, you’ll find a pot of gold at the end.”
Note: This reminds me of a Twilight Zone episode titled, The Whole Truth (1961) about a used car. In the story, every car owner had to tell the exact, honest truth … and there were no consequences considered.
Our society has come to expect that if a lie is justifiable (enough), if the end justifies the means, then it’s ok to lie. It’s the reason for the lie that makes it ok to tell the lie. Or in other words, if the <perceived> need is important enough (to someone, not necessarily us), the lie is ok … or forgivable at worst.
I don’t want to undervalue the importance of the justification. We need to tell lies … or more importantly, to not always say the absolute truth. Prudence is the order of the day. Lies do have an important place in our society. My goal is simply to dig into the need being met by the telling of the lie and to gain a clearer understanding of that need. Whether or not the lie was required … well that’s up to each of us and our individual value systems isn’t it?
Mother Theresa: “I feel fine today”.
*See my post about Institutional Needs.