When is it ok to lie? As kids, we’re taught never. As adults, we learn only when it can be gotten away with. In practice, we tend to obey the adults’ lesson and expect everyone else to follow the kids’.
But what's so bad about dishonesty? I mean honestly? Religions condemn, fairy tales caution, but what makes lying this societal syphilis that everyone retches at, yet everyone seems to have contracted?
Undoubtedly, there is something to the disparaging attitude towards deceit. We need rules, and not cheating each other all the time has got to have at least made the top ten. Too many liars, and society as we know it would collapse like so many tons of rotten apples, squelching under their own sticky brown weight. Truth is not on trial here. Its purity is sort of a package deal. But allow the devil to advocate for a moment on why lying might just be the best thing we human beings have going for us.
Truth be told, we NEED to be able to lie. Nevermind the cartoonish white lies of santa-being-real or dresses-not-looking-fat. We speak here of the very stuff that holds us rotten apples together.
How many times are we asked “How are you?” and how many times do we respond with the instant “Fine”? Such blatant lies. Nobody cares who’s fine, including the fine people. But not because we’re a species of soulless selfish demon babies. Per se. We tell those same two lies over and over again because we DO care about each other enough to ask how your stupid nephew’s stupid oboe recital went. Our very existence is built upon a world of pants on fire.
And quite frankly, we need to lie so we can protect our own butts from the rest of the species. We must lie by omission, and not tell that complete stranger they have the absolute cutest butt we’ve ever seen oh my god. We must bullshite and tell the boss that the algorithms will be made of money-printing fairy numbers if we just have until the end of the week. And we must bluff that jumper into climbing off that ledge, even if we don’t know what they’re going through.
Especially if we don’t know.
It is never the lie alone that is evil. Harming someone is, with sticks or stones or otherwise.
Nor is it the lie alone that makes us noble. Using our clever little brains to say what we will and achieve anything we try, that’s the pinnacle of human nobility.
Verily, it is our solemn duty to deceive. For what are we without that capacity? Naught but an input and output of dreary outside data. Where is imagination without dishonesty? To tell a story is to lie in order to tell the truth. All of Hollywood, and every grandparent alive would be out of a job were it not for that sacred human skill to lie through our beautiful crooked teeth.