Certainly, several people believe that lying makes them have a guilty conscience, and causes them to feel horrible about themselves. The only way to live burden free is by telling the truth. While honesty may give people mental peace, it can also be very selfish. Most people come clean and confess the truth in order to clear their conscience without completely thinking of the effects on others. In the article “The Insufficiency of Honesty,” written by Stephan L. Carter for the Atlantic Monthly, he uses an example of a dying man who decides to tell his wife of fifty years about an affair he had fifteen years into their marriage.
This affair was killing the man for thirty-five years, and in order for him to die peacefully he needed to tell the truth, and clear his conscience. While he was honest with his wife and his moral sense was cleared, telling the truth was not moral. He is about to die, but his wife isn’t. She has to live the rest of her life knowing that he is the same loving husband she thought he was. He only thought about himself and clearing his conscience, but it just caused pain for his wife, and hurt her more than it helped her in this time of grief.
As her husband he is supposed to act with love towards her, not look out just for himself. The truth can sometimes be selfish and immoral, whereas lying protects people from pain. Similarly, it doesn’t always feel great to be lied to. Nobody wants anyone to be dishonest with them. Friendships, partnerships, strangers, etc. , are all based on trust, and that trust is based on honesty. People have faith that someone is honest with them, just like they have confidence in them to be honest with them too, but lying is important to maintain social contact. The truth can lead to more negative than positive. Nobody wants to hear that they look overweight or that their gift for someone is pointless and that they will never use it. If people always told the complete truth nobody would have any friends. Of course everyone would like to be told if their make-up is smeared or that their hair is sticking up, but if someone doesn’t like the style of another person’s hair or they think the way they dress is weird, then that person not only doesn’t want to hear that, but they would be offended by that someone who told them that, causing them to dislike said someone.
The truth hurts, and it isn’t right to hurt someone’s feelings when lying doesn’t result in negative results. Furthermore, in relationships it is believed that the key to a good relationship is honesty and that the only way to have a long lasting, successful relationship is by being completely honest and holding nothing back. While relationships are based mainly on honesty, in order to maintain a good relationship the occasional lie is necessary. Everybody is self-conscience about themselves, and significant others are supposed to provide their other half with support and make them feel better.
They might over exaggerate a bit, but if they reveal that their significant other is started to look old or is getting fat, then that relationship isn’t going to last very long. There is no point to pick out and reveal their significant others flaws, when flaws like aging or change in weight doesn’t mean they love them any less. By avoiding insults, it keeps people from upsetting others when it’s unnecessary, and saving some ones feelings is the moral thing to do when the truth only causes hurt.
Naturally, some readers may challenge that honesty is the best policy, and the only right way to live is by being completely honest. After all, many believe lying only gets people into trouble, and does no good whatsoever. However, lying actually prevents conflicts, and what people don’t know doesn’t hurt them. Parents lie to their kids about Santa and the Easter Bunny being real all the time. If a kid asks if they are real and they get told the truth, it was the honest answer, but revealing their parents lie wasn’t the right thing to do.
It’s right for their parents to lie because Santa and the Easter Bunny are important parts of a child’s life. Children find out eventually when they’re older, when they can fully understand their parents reasoning and nobody gets hurt. Since the lie was revealed before the children can understand the reasons why they were lied to, it just caused problems between the kids and their parents. Ultimately, honesty is not always the best policy. It is important to tell the truth the majority of the time, but sometimes it is reasonable to lie.
Whether it is to protect someone’s feelings, maintain good relationships and social contact, or to prevent conflicts; lying is both moral and right in certain cases where the truth is not. However, while lying is necessary in certain situations, it doesn’t mean it is alright to lie continuously. It’s okay to tell lies here and there, but they pile up. Lies should only be told when it is for the better, and never for your own personal gain or to deceive others that can result in negative effects. Just lies are as good as the just truth, whereas selfish lies are as terrible as the selfish truth.