Feb 27, 2012

32 Contemplating the meaning of honesty

I have been thinking about honesty, what it means and how we integrate its ethos into our lives.

Honesty, it is often required, in some circumstances demanded but seemingly seldom practiced in its totality. I dare say that to find someone that is 100% honest 100% of the time is a virtual impossibility.

Some may say “virtual impossibility” is a pessimistic term however I say, “Not really.” I like to think of it as a pragmatist perspective. Shall I walk you through my reasoning?

The American heritage dictionary (AHD)  defines Honesty as the quality or condition of being honest; integrity, truthfulness and sincerity.

AMD’s definition is essentially supported by Wikipedia that extends its meaning by declaring that honesty is the human quality of communicating and acting truthfully related to truth as a value, including listening, and any action in the human repertoire — as well as speaking. It goes further with a synapses of superficial honesty—stating facts and views as best one truly believes them to be.

The statement “stating facts and views as best one truly believes them to be,” is where it gets sticky for me because it means its all subjective and prone to human self-deception and flawed reasoning to fill specific agendas. Which brings me back to my point of the virtual impossibility of finding someone that is 100% honest 100% of the time.  Key words “virtual impossibility.”  Are you with me thus far? No? Have I lost you? Ok….

Example:

Most people consider their selves to be honest yet they would lie to take a day off work, make up excuses why they are late or fail to show up for an event, why they don’t want to spend time with a particular friend, family member or co-worker and justify it by categorizing it as harmless. The old, “what you don’t know won’t hurt you,” theory. These I call the unconscious conscious lie. Why because most people don’t really factor it into their honesty barometer, there moral ethos if you will.

But the fact is, a lie, is a lie, is a lie, is a lie no matter how sweet it is told, how well it is sold, how pretty its wrapping or woven in a story or how high its slung. No matter how you well it is framed, how valid the rime or reason its still a lie and remains so even when we designate it safe or otherwise.

A vast majority of society have become so desensitized to lies  and lying due the same self-deluded selectiveness about what constitute a lie that now there seems to be this line of ratio factoring lies.

Ration Factoring of Lies:

  • White lies, i.e. “supposed” harmless lies—the lies told to spear someone’s feelings”
  • The somewhat acceptable lie—the lie told to get out of a commitment”
  • The tolerable lie—“it will do in a pinch as long as you don’t have to face the person”
  • The lies by omissions, “if you don’t say it, its not lying”
  • The, oh my “God” unacceptable lie. “you feel manipulated”
  • To the absolutely no forgiveness blasphemous lie--“you feel betrayed and violated”

Where this needle stops dependent upon and relative to people’s value systems and ethos for it is all subject to human selectiveness and that’s a problem.

Now I am not here standing on any holier than thou pulpit casting aspersions on any particular person, persons, because even in saying all that I have said I realize that I am subject to the very same things to which I speak. After all I am perfectly imperfect and humanly flawed.

My point….

A lie

Is a lie,

Is a lie,

Is a lie,

Is a lie,

Whether it is big or small,

Harmful or harmless

It is still a LIE

and one needs to be conscious when one tells it,

and accountable when one is calls on it to suit their agenda.

Why you ask….

Well, take this example for instance, a dog is a dog, is a dog and it doesn’t become a cat simply because one wishes it to be. The same premise holds true for lies.  They still remain lies even if we feel justified in weaving them.

What are your thoughts on lying?

 

32 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post Sis, and I totally agree with you there is no gray area when it comes to lies no matter how big or small at the end of the day it’s still a Lie!!

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    1. hmmm, thanks, the challenge is staying truthful 100% of the time in all situations and circumstance.

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  2. you hit it right on the head – a lie is a lie!

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  3. The meaning is so very clear, but the practice is oh so hard. I think that the more "drastic" lies are easy to hold in check. It’s the little ones that we use in wholesale distribution, such as those used in sparing people’s feelings, and the ones we use to "excuse" ourselves are the ones that are difficult to get a grip upon. Fabulous expressionism. Peace.

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    1. Oh you are so right, goodness it is quite the challenge isn't it?

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  4. First let me say how well written this piece is (no lie).

    But as you said a lie is a lie and to what degree is determined by the circumstances at the time. I heard somewhere, I think NPR, that lies where a necessary part of our daily discourse for many of the reasons already stated. But a dog is a dog it ain’t no cat.

    Peace and Blessings in the New Year,
    Tenthltr2u

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    1. Thank you. "lies where a necessary part of our daily discourse" this is so true. Often there are circumstances where people are penalized for telling the truth almost saying it is better to tell a lie. Such a contradiction.

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  5. So true. It is always better to tell the truth and live with the consequences than to enter the universe of lies. I learn from experience

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    1. oh the web can get nasty once it begins to weave. So in practice i try to keep it real. Operative word "try"

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  6. I hope my kids will find honesty always. It always serves you right to tell the truth even if it is hard. You can sleep well and as a Catholic…less to confess!

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    1. lol, i agree....sometimes the consequences of telling the truth bites hard. Confession? Oh i have to confess that I never confess. I prefer to cut out the middle man and speak directly to the Divine Master.

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  7. wow I really like you, I always get alot of statements like how could you. Because my hubby and have chosen to not lie to our kids about anything, if they ask I am going to answer theri question, we have never hidden the fact that Santa Claus is not real or any of the other magical charcters. I figure why would I lie to my kids, they expect me to tell the truth or as near as I can get without hurting someone. I wouldn’t be a good example as a parent if its ok for me to lie but not my kids. Children or teenagers seem for remembering things parents forget and hey if you get caught breaking your own rules you are in deep water. Hope you have a great New Year and a peaceful one!

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    1. That would be a heavy stance but one has to stand for what they believe in. My explanation for Santa Clause (sc)is that it is really the Spirit of giving, not necessarily a person per say hence anyone can be SC. In that same stream i explained that fairytales is just a methphorical way of explaining the world, sort of like parables. I too have found that it is better to keep it real with your children because you are right they tend to remember what you forget. Then they hold you to it.

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  8. i have to agree with you here…one cant xpect everyone, everytime with everything to be 100% honest, there can be times wen s/he may think other way….well, thats how things are….even if we dont like to..
    nice day to you..

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  9. Yes, a lie is a lie and it does not matter whether it is a whopper of a tale or just a little fudge of the truth.
    That’s why when I ask a someone a question I simply look for yes or a no answer.
    As a matter of fact, excuses seem to travel with lies.
    Have a splendid week,
    Greg

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    1. Yes they do tend to go hand in hand don't they. I tend to zone out when people start with the long long explanations.

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  10. I couldn't agree more. I have no tolerance for lies, lying and liars.

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    1. It is a hard pill to swallow and stomach, it is corrosive, eating away trust and deteriating love.

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  11. There are times when the absolute truth can be hurtful so we try to cushion it a little. However, we do try to be has honest and truthful in everything we do.

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    1. That is the rub, we have been convinced that lying is best in the light of truth. The thing about lies is that it always comes to light and in its wake it compounds the hurt one try to prevent in the first place. In its place is distrust and betrayal. Though a bit difficult to deal with at times, the truth is always best. At least in my experience.

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  12. Imagine a world without lies and only truthful statements.It will be strewn with almost all the persons hurt,battered and demotivated.A lie is an essential lubricant to make human relationships smooth and pleasant.However it is subject to a big rider that no lie should result in harm to others and small lies that help a cause is not something that is to be derided. There can be no slide rule evaluation of a lie or honesty.it is relative based on circumstances.

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    1. The "Normalcy" of lying is where we fall prey. To paraphase my grandmother, "its not what you say, its now you say it, where you say it, the tone its delivered in and the circumstance for its delivery."

      Once we begin the practice of justifying lying then pretty much anything and everything can be justified, it is a slippery slope. One lie begats another and another and another. We are all human and are subjecture to the lure of lying however we must try to make it the exception and not the rule.

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  13. Yes there is no dispute about a lie being a lie. How ever smartly I do it my daughter has the capacity to make it out.

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    1. hmmmmmmm............it does take due diligence to keep from falling under its spell.

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  14. My thoughts on lies. You had better have a good backup plan is you tell a lie.

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    1. Not only a good back up but you must remember what you said, why you said it, in what context under what circumstance.

      Its simply too much work if you ask me.....

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  15. The truth hurts less than a lie. If you tell the truth, no one can argue merits. If you lie to hid the truth, then your character comes into question. Lies about anything of real meaning are not acceptable, under any circumstances. You can't expect to have a solid relationship (friendship, with your kids, loving relationship with your significant other, your boss... if you build it on lies.

    However, I would lie to a person to avoid hurting their feelings over a very insignificant matter. For instance, let's say a friend was in a singing contest and they were the worse one there. I don't think 'Id want to tell them that. Most likely I'd tell a white lie and say, "yeah, I think you did a good job. I enjoyed hearing you sing." Or, let's say, a lady friend of mine asks that dreadful question: "Does this make me look fat?" - I have learned that as a man, I do not, on pain of death, ever say "Yes." I have told small white lies to my kids too! Lying to spare someone's feelings or to make them feel better is sometimes necessary in my opinion. Telling a lie should always be a last resort regardless and try as hard as I do... sometimes someone's feelings are much more important than my opinion or how I feel. Little white lies are socially accepted I thought, when they do no harm. For instance, telling a child that their drawing is nice or that their story is clever, or telling new parents that their baby is the cutest ever are both examples of this.

    I guess because I do tell little white lies myself, that must make me a liar. Judge me not, my intentions are good.

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    1. I prefer the truth to lies, though yeah the truth can sometimes cut like a knife and that’s because it is true. I will admit to failing sainthood and lying but am not inclined to lie to friends, if asked for the truth I would give it. I have learnt over the years to tamper the truth by cushioning it with positives rather than focusing only on the negatives. I won't tell someone their singing is good if it was bad, in my experience one can make a bad situation worst by doing so. I won't be brutal but I won't lie. If I experience difficulty because I am in a crisis of conscience caused by the dilemma of not wanting to hurt the person’s feelings then I'd bypass the question and simply say nothing (which am told is sometimes worst). But what’s a woman to do? I don’t always like to lie it bothers me. Sigh…. “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

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  16. Great post Rhapsody one lie can grow into a thousands lie's .

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    1. hmmmm, that's for sure, it gathers momentum and snowballs.

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