Lying in our society is a big taboo, a big no-no. Many people have substantial moral grounds for why we should not lie, but they don’t have much to say regarding this subject besides these. This gives me enough ammunition to destroy the “no lying” myth once and for all.
You Have No Honor
In “Game Of Thrones” (GoT), one of the most viewed and highly rated series of all times, thousands of men were told to go to war, to die, and to do some other awful things while promised almost nothing else in return. They have to do it, and they obey, all for the benefit of a small elite group that pushes their twisted agenda and feeds their desire for power.
In one famous scene from this series, there is a combat between Bronn and Ser Vardis Egan, where after winning a fight, Bronn is told that he “fights without an honor”. In the Middle Ages, being accused of having “no honor” was like being accused of betrayal, murder, or rape, which is something you don’t want to be accused of. Bronn replies, “he did”, pointing at a dead man.
Translating this into a modern-day, we often, rationally or irrationally, do things that benefit others, even when our situation is worst in comparison. For example, we work in a dead-end job with a salary to laugh at, working for a guy who already has too much and never knew poverty or an honest day of work in his life. We do it because society is built this way, maintained through specific written or unwritten rules, such as law, culture, and honor. And while rules are important to make things work, often they help certain people (let’s call them “the rich”) more than other people (“the poor”). In turn, the rich set up the rules and teach the poor to follow them. They even put specific incentives and controls in places, such as law enforcement and shaming, that people re-enforce upon each other, keeping the whole system afloat.
This is important in terms of lying since we often follow moral standards that are not even our own. We usually do it without realizing how crazy our behavior is, thinking that all we do is rational and choose to do whatever we are doing. We are also inside a system, which is often why we cannot see that system. And even if we did know everything which is wrong with the world (which we often do), it takes tremendous courage to step up and challenge the status quo. This is why traveling is such an eye-opener. It shows people that there are different ways of living and our cultures, ways of thinking, and being are wrong, or at least not as good compared to others. It gives up that perspective of stepping back and observing the behavior on a more objective level, which is why people should do it more often in their lives.
I think of myself as a multidimensional human being. I am sure you do, too. Still, in my case, I can often overwhelm people with everything I do. For example, I practice different sports at a high professional level such as acrobatics, and I speak 8 languages, travel the world indefinitely for over 8 years, I am a personal development enthusiast, I changed my religion from atheist to Buddhist, I am vegan (not related to Buddhism), I don’t drink alcohol, smoke, take drugs, drink coffee, I have a happiness blog, wrote a book, have an e-commerce business, and so on and so force.
Typically, one of the above topics is enough to start a vivid discussion that can last for a couple of hours. However, if I am to tell people all the above in one go, there is often zero discussion. Why? Maybe because they think I am snobbish, perhaps this creates too much of a difference between them and me, and they can no longer relate, or maybe because there is too much information to process. The reasons are not necessary. What is important is that I have to give all the information step-by-step. Essentially, I have to withhold information, which is one definition of lying purposefully.
Good vs. Evil
This is to say that withholding information is usually tactful and is a nightmare for anyone who wants to “have no secrets”, to be “100% honest”, or to “always do what is right”. On TV, I often see this idealistic portrays of good vs. evil and right vs. wrong, which is always true as far as every person is a hero in his own story. This means that even the worst person in the world finds a higher meaning in whatever actions they undertake. Conclusion this is to say that you can be doing something right but doing something terrible. People will praise you for some behaviors, while for others, they will criticize and even punish you. Morality is just such a subjective thing. What is right for one person is wrong for another. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. So sure, you can preach your morals and tell me I am a terrible person. You can say that lying is wrong. Or you can take a higher ground and try to do what is right all the time. You will fail either way, and you will never achieve that cartoonist and imaginary status of a saint any matter how much you try. At best, you will alienate others and live in a bubble of denial that will limit your life to the opportunities and growth you could have achieved otherwise.
Of course, the solution for all this is to stop thinking morality in binary terms, such as right or wrong, and replace it with a new scale where a certain action is superior to another. Following this model, the only thing that we need to do is see which steps are superior to others and continuously chose a road of improvement and growth. We will know that we will be doing better in specific life areas than others and another way around on this road. We should then help each other to grow and learn from people who know better than us.
Good Lies, Bad Lies, and White Lies
Lying is a necessary part of human nature. It has been said that lying is wrong unless we have a good reason for it, which means that sometimes lying is called. And while this logic is sound, it creates a lot of issues. For example, let’s imagine we are caught on a lie. If we can prove that lie would benefit other people, then people should thank us for lying, which will never happen, of course, because lying by definition is always wrong. Also, if lying does not benefit others or people follow some other moral standard, we are bad human beings for lying, and perhaps we should be punished for it.
But think about Marketing. It exaggerates and distorts reality. It puts images of perfect people and makes us chase that image of perfection, even if we can never arrive at it. This means that Marketing tells us lies. They are sweet lies that we fall for in different parts of our lives, leading to collective brainwashing, a lot of bad choices, and a whole new bag of issues that come with it. Still, we accept Marketing and its distortions to a certain point, which is to say that we accept to be lied to. Of course, it is super subjective. For example, in my e-commerce business, I sell all sorts of products, from dog toys to car accessories to make up products. Some people buy these products and are super happy, and others will complain about the false advertising of that product. So the question becomes: where do you draw a line?
I also remember that I read somewhere that we white lie between 15 to 60 times per day. We withhold information, exaggerate, make understatements, and say things that are not the truth. We do so to maintain social harmony within a group, improve our situation, make our lives more colorful and less tedious, and many other reasons. Essentially, everyone lies to a certain extent, and the world is a better place because of it. This makes lying is acceptable, necessary, and an important part of our lives, meaning that being a saint and feeling bad about lying can be detrimental to us, others, and the world overall.
Why We Should Lie
I want you to live following your morals and worldview, but I also realize that some ways of living are better than others, if only in a subjective sense. I truly believe (and I have evidence to support it) that if we all behaved in a certain way, the world and people’s lives would be much better than they are right now. This is a worthy pursuit to follow. Thus, while I will tell you to look at lying as a more acceptable form of communication, we should still maintain the social harmony and continue to improve the world as we know it in the process. #LieToImproveTheWorld
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