Is it always wrong to tell a lie?
I remember when I was growing up that my Mum said sometimes it was ok to tell a ‘white’ lie, you know, the one where you tell a lie to be polite, like saying dinner at a friend’s house was delicious, when in fact you would have preferred dog biscuits.
Which I find rather ironic now, as my Mum never tells lies to be polite.
Anyway, I digress.
It crossed my mind the other week, as I generally consider myself a straightforward, honest, truthful person. Someone asked me if their fake tan looked too orange, ‘Well, it’s quite dark’ [registered horror on their face] ‘but it looks lovely, really suits you!’
It was a lie.
They were orange.
But much as I didn’t like lying, I could see how worried they were about it, and I could tell they were panicking already, and I just couldn’t bring myself to upset them. I just can’t do it. Which is a complete contradiction to how I am. I used to get into SO MUCH TROUBLE at work because I just had to tell the truth, I couldn’t play the politics game, I refused to get drawn into people-pleasing when it was business, but when it comes to nice people, I can’t be mean.
And I have no qualms about the lies involving the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, Father Christmas – that is the magic of childhood.
However, when the Big Little Man asked where babies come out of ladies, I told him the truth. My friend looked on in horror as he ran screaming out of the room, ‘what’s wrong with telling him the belly-button?’ she asked. I just didn’t think it was a necessary lie. And it saves un-telling that one later on.
I think when most people employ a lie, whether it be ‘white’ or otherwise, it’s generally for a reason; to get that job, to save someone’s feelings, to create some mystery. Whether it’s right or wrong is neither here nor there, but it will always be the one telling the lie who has to live with their version of the truth.
And if that means that I made someone smile rather than worry, I can live with that.