Lying to Yourself and Others… to Help


I catch flack from others when I defend lying. Don’t get me wrong in this new year of 2011. I am not an advocate of universal and continuous lying. I am just very practical and know that lies are told every day, every hour of every day.

Lying to Yourself

Did some research into the benefits of lying some time back and came across several articles and blog posts. This one at a blog on meditation followed my hypothesis that lying to one’s self on occasion is beneficial because it can help get us through a difficult or trying time.

Consider this… a struggling writer or painter can’t get anyone to read or view his or her work. Should that writer/painter just give in to reality and admit that they may not have what it takes to be successful? Or should the artist tell him or herself daily that they are a great author/painter, and success is just around the corner? You can call this perseverance or stubbornness, but you can also call it what it is — lying to one’s self to convince us to keep going.

To Help Others

The question of ethics always comes up in defending lying for practical reasons. Many, many, many people feel in their core that lying is wrong, just plain wrong. But if you or I were to sit with these people for any length of time, a lie and then another and then another would come out of their mouths. It happens to everyone — everyone.

So this NPR story on the ethics of lying to mentally incapacitated people is very interesting. Is it wrong to lie to a 90-year-old woman and tell her that her son or daughter are coming to visit when they will forget the conversation in 20 minutes? Is it wrong to answer a 85-year-old man with a “yes” when he asks you if his father will be home for dinner tonight when the gentleman has been dead for 25 years and the man asking the question will forget the conversation in 15 minutes?

Lying has a bad reputation, except when everyone does it to help or protect others.

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About Christopher Metcalf - Author

Christopher Metcalf is the author of Lance Priest / Preacher novels. Lance "Preacher" Priest is a spy, a killer, a human chameleon. He is the CIA's perfect weapon who lives by one simple rule -- there are no rules. Spies and Lies is a blog dedicated to espionage, the art and science of lying and occasional creative writing. www.christophermetcalf.com
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