Let us start with a story. A kid was only 6 months old when his mother left her abode forever. The kid was brought up by his father. He never felt the absence of a mother figure in his life as his father gave all the love he ever wanted. But as he grew and started going to his nursery school, he began to realize that other children had two parents while he had only one. He went home and asked his father about his mother. The father, with a heavy heart, told the kid that his Mom was taking a long vacation and would be back soon. The child spent the next few years gazing at the road outside with a hope that any moment now his mother would come back from her holiday. But as he grew older, he knew his father was not telling the truth. He demanded the truth and the father told him that his mother took her own life when he was just a baby. The father said that he lied because he never wanted to banish the child from having a normal childhood.
Now you decide whether the lie told by the father was justified. Well, some of you might say that it was utterly wrong of the father because if he had told the truth when the child was younger, then maybe the kid would have accepted his mother’s fate by now. He might have been devoid of all the sadness by now. But some of you, on the other hand, would argue that a father unfolding the terrible fate of his wife in front of his 2-year old kid would be really cruel. The child may get affected in unimaginable ways.
Lying has been a part and parcel of human civilization since time immemorial. Lying works for many people, including me, and it does not look like it is devolving any time soon. We lie to avoid punishments or awkwardness. We lie to maintain relationships and please others. Imagine the havoc you would wreck every time you tell your partner you hate their playlist. Whether we are embellishing our stories or presenting ourselves in front of someone else, we love to add a twist of untruth to sound more daunting and incredible.
From our childhood, we have been told to never lie. We have also been told to not insert our tiny fingers into a socket! But why is it that we chose to obey the latter and not the former? Ever wondered that? It is because we never see anyone putting their fingers into a socket slot which in turn strengthens the conviction that it is indeed harmful. But we everyday see people lying around us. Mom picking up the phone and saying Dad’s not at home while he is singing in the shower, elder brother getting punched at the face and telling Mom that he fell down the stairs and what not. Throughout our childhood we have experienced people lying and emerging with rewards! I have lost counts of how many times my elder brother made me swear to God to not let his pranks get to Mom. So the seed of lying gets planted when we are toddlers and as we grow up the roots just entwine into our soul.
But why has lying survived so long in the society? In fact we lie so much that dishonesty comes naturally to us. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we are lying. We no longer broadcast the nervousness or the tell-tale signs of unease that an intentional liar can barely help to hide. Why honesty is no longer the best policy? Well, the black and white truth of life is that nobody likes the truth to be shoved up their spines. Nobody would like to be called unattractive or heavy. In today’s world a person who is too honest is considered to be blunt, heartless, uncaring, antisocial and sometimes pathological. They are the people who have the fewest friends. A recent study showed that people who are popular among their peers are the people who are best at being deceptive.
It might sound bizarre but another study has shown the psychological benefits of lying. For instance, an evidence came up that claimed that depressive people are more honest with themselves than the people with healthy minds. A very harsh example can be accepting that your partner is a ‘jerk’ (pardon my language) for breaking up with you rather than facing the truth that it was you who made him insane enough to take this step. Well, the former would help you to move on and have a happy life while the latter would hit you like a thunderbolt every time you thought about it and you would end up feeling miserable and depressed.
There is also a counter argument to the above saying that lying is unhealthy. Numerous reasons were invoked and one among them stressed on the fact that liars have to work and think through everything to a much greater extent so as not to get detected. Moreover, one lie is followed by a family of lies. It leads to a lot of stress which can be termed as unhealthy.
Everything apart, lying leads to an unauthenticated and unreal life. We misinterpret the things that are really happening, we fail to see things in their most appropriate ways and we sometimes unconsciously follow the untruths. But we should try to be honest whenever possible. We should try to reduce the distance between the way things seem to be and the way things really are. Whatever may be the situation we are in, we should try to live as real as possible because life is about facing the reality and crossing over all the hurdles.