Over my years I have been exposed to many extenuating circumstances where I honestly felt that being honest was not the right thing to do because the brutal implications of that honesty were more severe than if I had just been dishonest in the first place.
Dishonesty has been long frowned upon by many religions. “Thou shalt not lie” happens to be one of the Ten Commandments. Even though they were probably chiseled into stone, are they really set in stone?
I believe honesty is typically the best policy, but as I have come to learn there are some circumstances where honesty is not the best policy.
Clearly there are cases we can all agree on that it was appropriate to lie.
Take the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting when Victoria Soto hid her classroom in closets and when the gunman came to her room and asked where they were, she lied and told them they were in gym class. She gave her life that day but the students lived because of this lie.
I don’t think many of us would dispute that honesty was clearly not the best policy in this circumstance. Most of us would agree that honesty is never the correct thing to do when lying could save lives.
Are there other circumstances that aren’t life saving where lying could be the best thing you could do?
Time has a way of healing emotional wounds but time can also be used to lessen the impact of creating those emotional wounds.
If you knew something that would hurt someone really bad would you tell them just to be honest?
If you knew that by waiting a year that they wouldn’t be as hurt or hurt at all by what you had to say, would you keep it to yourself? What if it didn’t matter if you ever told them?
Are there any circumstances for which it is okay to withhold information in order to save someone from emotional pain?
I have always gone with honesty is the best policy because I’ve learned that I do not possess the ability to maintain a series of lies for an extended period of time. I have a natural inclination to be honest so if I forget that I had to lie about something I end up blowing my cover later on.
If your lie involves any other person, no matter who it is, you’re running a huge risk of being exposed. I’ve had people in my life that I thought I could trust and I found out the hard way that they will give all your secrets away when it benefits them.
If your lie is known by another person or exists anywhere in writing, you’re screwed at keeping it a secret for long.
How many movies have you watched where people have become FBI informants and ratted on their friends to save their own ass?
If you think you can trust your spouse or “soulmate” go sit in a divorce court once and watch what secrets come out publicly to gain some advantage in the proceedings.
Are there things you need to really know? Do you need to know that your ex was unfaithful to you during the relationship after it’s ended?
Probably not. What good is the information if they are already your ex? The only thing that can happen is you stir up old feelings and become hurt again for nothing.
There are many circumstances where there’s no room for honesty and things are better left unsaid.
Is it really a lie to not offer up information freely? What if you could save someone you know from unnecessary emotional pain?
Let’s consider some examples.
If you’re a single guy and you’re currently seeing two women at the same time, is it better to let them know about each other, or is it better to maintain the two separate lives?
If they know about each other, the chances are it will turn into some weird ass competition or one or both will dump you, either way, it probably won’t be fun for you or them. These type of situations turn into a lot of hurt feelings and manipulation.
On the other hand if they never know about each other, it could turn out to be a no harm no foul type scenario. You may end up with one of them or none of them at all and it really won’t matter. Even if you end up with one of them in a serious relationship, the other one would have gone away naturally, again, no harm no foul.
Why make things worse than they have to be just for the sake of honesty?
Pretend that down the road, the woman you ended up with finds out you were seeing someone at the same time, say a year ago. Maybe that’s a problem, maybe it’s not, but so much time has lapsed that it won’t be as big of an issue if it’s any issue at all at this point. Time deadens emotion.
I believe being honest or lying does not define whether or not you’re a good person, rather that your choice to be honest or lie is strictly circumstantial and whether or not you’re a good person is based on your intentions or unintended consequences of whichever option you decide to employ at the time.
There are good people that lie. There are good people that are honest. But there are also bad people out there that are honest and bad people out there that lie.
Sometimes, somethings are better left unsaid.
It is interesting to think about scenarios where are a lot of people may think it’s okay to disobey a commandment and lie. It makes one wonder whether or not there is a hierarchical order to the commandments where some take precedence over the others.
You can lie, if…
You can commit murder if…
I know some of you guys out there are trying to come up with scenarios where it’s okay to commit adultery, that one seems to be tough, unless you’re being forced to do it to save someone’s life, but by all means be creative with it.
I would love to hear in the comments what scenarios people come up with to justify breaking a commandment or law.
Even in our legal system, it’s not so much the act itself that is illegal or bad, but rather, the context in which the act happens.
For example, it is completely legal and justified to kill someone in certain self-defense scenarios.
It may seem after all you’ve been told, that even things that are set in stone are flexible.