I lie. You probably do too. Well, at least just a little.
I’m not talking about super big lies- I am who I say I am- but sometimes little white lies crawl out of my mouth all too easily. Things like that shirt doesn’t make you look fat or I don’t have a babysitter to watch the kids tonight, because really I don’t want to do something or oh yum, those homemade cookies taste great. Also, blaming something on my kids or my husband is perfect way to get out of doing something and not be a jerk, right? Right?!
Sometimes we justify telling our little white lies because we want to spare the feelings of those around us. We (I) tell myself (unconsciously) that I bend the truth so they don’t feel bad- but maybe in actuality we bend the truth because we are to chicken to face how bad it will make us feel to be that completely honest. We are the ones who will get red in the face, we are the ones who will feel uncomfortable. So we save ourselves.
I also really have a hard time saying “no,” probably partly for the same reasons. And you wouldn’t think this is true probably, because sometimes I have a snarky little mouth that says too much. But I end up saying yes to volunteering or whatever, because maybe it sounds good at the time or I just don’t always find the words to say, “no, I have too much damn stuff on my plate already.” Maybe I speak too quickly to just be agreeable. Maybe we aren’t taught to say no or be disagreeable. We are taught to be polite and kind and fit in, no matter what. And you had better just eat that cookie that grandma made and smile, because you don’t want to be rude. We teach our kids to say thank you for that horrendous sweater with kittens on it that they got for Christmas because otherwise you hurt their feelings. Maybe even when we say yes but don’t want to, it means we aren’t being our authentic selves or being honest. Maybe sometimes we should stop doing that.
Sometimes it backfires.
Recently there was this situation where someone asked me if my child could do something with them. For several reasons the answer will always be no. And to save face I just made an excuse up about why they couldn’t- instead of saying the real reason why they couldn’t- which included my extreme distrust and discomfort of this person, and knowledge of some illegal activity. I gave the brushed off version, which was, “sorry we’re busy.” But now the problem is, they are being pushy and keep asking again and again. (Which is weird. stop) So it seems like I’m just going to have to be completely honest and let them know I don’t feel comfortable leaving my child with them. I feel like I have to break up with this person I don’t even like. And break-ups are uncomfortable, right. And I especially know that because it doesn’t just involve me, but my child- I have to just be straight up- and risk being a jerk to speak up for their best interest. This has to happen every time, really for their safety and to teach them a valuable lesson here.
Author Mark Twain once said, “No fact is more firmly established than that lying is a necessity of our circumstance–the deduction that it is then a Virtue goes without saying.” Is this right?
So what would you do? Is it ever okay to lie? I will give credit to local media personality, Evan Dawson, because when I asked Twitter this morning what I should do, he suggested that it was never okay to lie, for any reason- even to save face. He also sent me a link of a book, Lying by Sam Harris, where the author tackles the problem with white lies and argues that we can “radically simplify our lives and improve society by merely telling the truth in situations where others often lie.”
Interesting and thought-provoking (yet so simply glaringly true) concept. And man with three kids, I need simplicity like I need food and water.
Oh and also everyone else on Twitter also says I need to cop to the truth. Something that I was already overwhelmingly feeling like I had to, considering the present situation- but I apparently needed a kick in the butt to reassure me that it was the right thing to do. For me, and maybe for them too, and definitely for my kids.