At the risk of sounding preachy, don’t lie. Tell the truth. If you’re looking for a New Year’s resolution, this would be a great one. Okay, maybe it would be okay to tell a lie if the lie was absolutely necessary to save a life — but even then, it would still be better to save that life by simply telling the truth a bit more creatively. Use less specific words. Or say true things that are in the ballpark of the requested answer but still not quite it. Or true things that misdirect without actually being untrue. Or simply answer a question with a question. There are so many ways to answer a question without lying but while still not giving away any private information that why anyone would ever deliberately tell a lie in any circumstances is almost beyond my comprehension.
Using Kant’s famous example, let’s say a murderer is at your door looking for your friend who is in fact hiding in your house. The murderer says to you, “is your friend here? Because if he is, I need to kill him, immediately.” Why could you not say, for example, “Here? in Milwaukee? That’s an excellent question! I know he went to Chicago in June.” That could all be 100% true, but could also misdirect as needed to preserve your friend’s safety.
Why is that a better answer than “No, I have not seen him in weeks”? Because if you let your friend into your house, unless you are blind or seriously visually impaired, you probably have seen him quite recently, perhaps only minutes earlier. If you say that you have not, that would be an out and out lie.
Who cares about the difference between gentle misdirection of a question and a boldfaced lie? YOU SHOULD, THAT’S WHO!!!
Our universe is woven together, in part, by words. When you tell a lie, you start to unravel the fabric of the universe. This, at least, is my working hypothesis. Because I have observed again and again that when people lie, the lies always seem to be shortly thereafter followed by experiences that the persons in question would very much prefer not to have experienced. Call it karma if you want. But it’s fast, efficient, and ruthless.
And so not worth it.
Telling the truth, on the other hand, affects us quite differently. When we tell the truth, even (maybe especially) when the truth is hard to stomach and even harder to speak, we help to repair the fabric of the universe. And good things start to happen around us. That’s karma too. Suddenly doors start to open that were previously locked up tight. Opportunities arise. We get to move forward instead of being stuck in quicksand. And lies, my friend, will turn to quicksand faster than you can say “jack rabbit.” You WILL be caught in them. You WILL sink. And you will be lucky ever to get yourself back out. You CAN get yourself out, though. Do you want to know how? BY TELLING THE TRUTH!!!!
If you don’t believe me, keep a journal of truths and lies that come out of your mouth, and also note the events that follow over the ensuing days. Conduct your own experiments. Just be careful. Truth is an incredibly powerful tool, and lies are a VERY dangerous thing to play with. Try not to cut yourself — or anyone else.