Lies have powerful effects on all of us based on the lecture “The Truth about Lying” by Judith Viorst. At an early age, I found out that lies could change our opinion about the people that lie to us and their credibility. It is not necessary to lie since if we feel that the truth might hurt the other person, a polite silence should suffice. As Viorst Says, “I suffer most from the misconception that children can’t take the truth” (135). This reminded me of how hurt and devastated I was when I found my parents playing Santa Claus and putting the present by my bed.
They explained to me that this was a very old Spanish custom in celebration of the occasion when the Three Wise Men (Spanish version of Santa Claus), having discovered the birth place of Jesus, arrived bearing gifts for the Child. When the Church of England (Episcopal Church) broke off with Rome and the Pope, they changed Christmas, and the nativity was replaced by a Christmas tree and the Three Wise Men were replaced by Santa Claus. While their explanation was a logical one, it nevertheless didn’t change the fact that my trust in them had been betrayed.
They lost their credibility for the time being. It would have been better if they had told me the truth. There were other deceptions which were the tooth Fairy, the boogie man, the Ouija, etc. All these lies made me wonder if I would ever be able to trust them in anything they said. As I look around, I realize that they are not the only ones who did this, and everyone seemed to play the same kind of game. As I got older, lying got more sophisticated; now, it was called social lies. Society required mendacity, which is the art of lying in order to find socially acceptable ways of saying things.
Viorst described this kind of lie in her lecture by saying that: Most of the people I’ve talked with say that they find social lying acceptable. They think it’s the civilized way for folks to behave. Without these little white lies, they say, our relationships would be short and brutish and nasty. It’s arrogant, they say, to insist on being so incorruptible and so brave that you cause other people unnecessary embarrassment or pain by compulsively assailing them with your honesty. I basically agree. There’s one man I know who absolutely refuses to tell social lies. I can’t play that game,” he says: “I’m simply not made that way. ” And his answer to the argument that saying nice things to someone doesn’t cost anything is, “Yes, it does—it destroys your credibility. ”(131) I go along with this way of thinking because I do not want to destroy my credibility. I will not offer my view unsolicited, but if someone asks and really wants to know my frank opinion about something he or she will certainly get it. I will not volunteer it. I believe that little white life lies are still lies, and I feel that telling lies is morally wrong. Some people could be called peace-keeping liars.
Their lies are designed to avoid irritation or arguments or, perhaps, shelter the individual from possible blame or pain. This is meant to keep trouble at bay without hurting anyone. I tell this kind of lie at times, and even though I understand why I tell them, I still feel it is wrong. As far as I am concerned, peace-keeping lies are still lies, and no matter how you rationalize it, telling lies is morally wrong. Some people lie because they are convinced that the truth will be too damaging to others. They may lie to their children about money or marital matters. They also lie to the dying about the state of their health.
One of the things about white lies that I find disturbing is this, many times, my parents lie to me about money matters, either because they don’t want me to know that they have financial difficulties or maybe they don’t want to give me the money that I want, but they don’t want to come out and tell me that they don’t want me to have it. I would rather they told me the truth because this causes me to doubt their credibility. This kind of action may be all right in diplomatic circles but not in the family. When it comes to love and sex, the worst thing a person can do is to ask their mate to rate their performance.
If the other person lies and tells him or her how wonderful he or she is when they know that he or she is not up to par, the trust is broken because now they will never believe each other. When my girlfriend fakes an orgasm just to please me, it makes me insecure when I find out because now I know that she cannot be trusted. The next time, I will probably find myself not capable of performing. Viorst comments on this: “I lie to my husband on sexual things, but I’m furious that he’s too insensitive to know I’m lying” (135). I have given these matters a lot of thought.
I don’t think that I am a liar per se, but nevertheless, I have found that in order to get along with my peers, I have to engage in a certain amount of what I call “stretching the truth”. There is a certain amount of mendacity involved that tends to give me a feeling of being dishonest, yet I know that my only reason for lying is to spare other people’s feelings and to be easier to get along with. Nevertheless, I feel that the feeling I have when I indulge in this practices is much too great a price to pay and have decided that from now on honesty shall be my motto.