When Is It OK to Lie?

I’ve been thinking about honesty and lying lately… a lot!

It began several weeks ago while I was listening to Dr. Laura on the radio.

A male caller was sharing that he had recently had a one night stand while on a business trip and he was feeling a huge amount of regret and remorse and was asking Dr. Laura if he should confess to his wife of 10 years with whom he had 3 young children.

He said he loved his wife and his kids and he would never cheat again.

Dr. Laura’s advice took me by surprise.

She told the caller that it would be “selfish” of him to confess to his wife and turn their lives upside down.

And, that since he had committed to never doing it again, he should keep quiet and suffer in silence.

Clearly, this is a lie by omission.

And, it’s also a lie that might keep a mostly happy family intact.

This got me thinking about all the different kinds of lies that exist, from
half-truths to little white lies, to the newest version now known as “alternative facts.”

There is a part of me that agrees with Dr. Laura, and another part that wonders if that is really the best way to go.

Years ago I had a client, Brad Blanton, who wrote a book called Radical Honesty.

It’s exactly what it sounds like and he said that the ONLY lie he would ever condone is if the Nazi’s were banging on your door and you had Jews hidden in your attic, then lying would be the right thing to do.

Many of us consider ourselves basically honest people who tell little lies all the time.

These are lies we are ok with: We lie to not hurt someone’s feelings, or we lie to get out of making plans we don’t want to do (you know, “wow, thanks for the invite but I’ll be in Timbuktu that day…”).

I don’t have any real conclusions here, except to say this is what has been on my mind and if I had a working magic wand, I would wave it at the world and ask for a return to basic values such as honesty, integrity, civility and a whole lot more compassion for ourselves, and fellow humans.

Wishing you love, laughter, and magical kisses,

Arielle