Friday, April 27, 2012

To Lie or Not to Lie

I can't stand white lies...purple...whatever the color (or degree), I simply can't stand a lie.  And although I am far from perfect and can be accused of many things, telling a blatant lie is not one of them. 

Because of this, I seem to have a talent spotting lies, in particular, the white variety.

Some may think telling a white lie is beneficial, easier or necessary...especially in those uncomfortable cases where a friend may ask, "Do I look fat?"  I doubt this "friend" is waiting for you to respond, "Yes, actually you are a bit fat." Rather they hope to hear, "Absolutely not!  You are as thin as a rail! Are you feeling okay?!"

I was grateful when my BYU room mates made a pact. In this "alliance" we all committed to keep one another from gaining the FRESHMAN FIVE (that is when you head off to college and get fat).  If one started to look a bit "chunky" or the question was asked, "Do I look fat?" the others were obligated to tell the truth, and nothing but the truth.

I will not say whether any of us gained any added pounds, I can say 20 years later we are all still the BEST of friends. I respect them. I love them!

Another fun experience with telling the truth occurred while I worked at Nordstrom years ago. I was in the swim department.  Multiple times, clients would ask me, "Does this swimsuit make me look fat?"

I wanted to say, "No, actually it is your fat that makes you look fat."  I resisted and would honestly say, "Why don't we try this one. It really makes one look quite skinny!" 

See no lies.  Ironically, I had people come back for me again and again, asking me to help them pick out the perfect "slimming" outfit!

Is it better to straight out tell the white lie or to go to the other extreme and risk hurting a "feeler" or two  by telling complete truths (why yes, dear friend, your outfit really is rather ugly)?  Or should we simply be honest without breaking hearts, spirits or digging ourselves into deeper holes?

A definition of a white lie states,

"White lies are minor lies which could be considered to be harmless, or even beneficial, in the long term. White lies are also considered to be used for greater good. A common version of a white lie is to tell only part of the truth, therefore not be suspected of lying, yet also conceal something else, in order to avoid awkward questions."

And although, "minor" lies are sometimes used for the "greater good," lies, they remain.
I have had a child or two or three or four or five...fall prey to the white lie(s).  To me, it is completely obvious when he (or she...let's be fair) is fibbing.  For example, when I ask who found the THREE boxes of  hidden Pop tarts AND EATEN them ALL (every single pack) and the reply from each member of the household is, "Not me," I know something is amiss, especially when they have a bit of chocolate smeared on the corner of their mouth (I never said I was a genius).

I quickly rule out the two children who are still innocent of such behavior.  I know they are pure from such thievery due to the calls I receive each time they want a snack (or ask if I am home).  I received such a phone call just the other day from just a child, "Mom, can I have microwaveable popcorn?"  Even when struck with hunger past the dinner hour, I have been called, "Mom, can I have a bowl of cereal...I am so very hungry."

The other three children, do not ask for snacks.  And they are NOT required to ask... actually, no one is required in our home to ask for a snack...those snacks of the healthier variety (fruit, vegis, popcorn, pretzels, yogurt, goldfish).  When I do have the more coveted snacks such as Doritos, Fruit Roll-ups, candy, hmmm...POP TARTS...they are required to ask.

The mystery comes when no one has asked for the special snack and yet it disappears.
Weird eh?!

Sommer and I held a little experiment last week.  I told her I would buy a tempting snack, hide it and not tell anyone I had purchased it. I bet her it would be discovered within one day...eaten and the best part, THE PACKAGING (or blasted leftover trash) WOULD REMAIN.

Purchased snack item was found and eaten within a day (with box still in hiding place).

Lame eh?!  The least he/she could do is throw away the trash!!
The best part always comes when I gather the children and simply ask who has eaten the snack.

White lie, white lie and white lie...every time.

Whether the statement is, "Mom, I had no idea we had that item!" or "I only had one!"...the lies start trickling in.

And it bothers me.

White lies can turn into bigger lies. Bigger lies will most likely turn into the inability for others to truly trust you. And when others cannot trust you, unhappiness will surely follow. Not only will the person who lies be unhappy, all of those around him/her will as well.

It is always better to tell the truth. 

I would love one of my "Pop-tart Bandits" to simply say, "Why yes Mom, I did take the Pop-Tart.  How wonderful it was! In fact, it was so wonderful, I ate every single one...and then I threw the trash away!"

And then, a few months later, I would hear, "Mom. Do I look fat?!" To which I would reply, "Why let's have a carrot stick, my dear child. In fact, let's eat all of them!"

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