A world without lies?

Ttoes @ wordpress.com
Ttoes @ wordpress.com

What is a lie?

Dictionary.com

- A false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood.

- Something intended or serving to convey a false impression; imposture.

- An inaccurate or false statement

Webster.com: A statement that deviates from or perverts the truth.

The telling of lies

We all tell lies. And there are a wide variety of them, too. Little white lies, monumental fabrications, punctual insincerities, tall stories, I don't care about you so why should I tell you what I really think untruths, plain get me out of trouble lies, purposeful inaccuracies ... The many varieties of outright lies, half truths and little untruths make the world go round more than the truths we all avoid uttering at some point in our lives.

I'm not above the telling of lies. My particular portfolio is mostly composed on not-said-truths, I really can't remember the last time I found the need to be explicitly and purposefully insincere, but every now and then I do encounter the need to be not fully sincere. The end results may be the same, my counterpart continues to be ignorant of "what I really think", but it's a bit different to make up a lie and not to say all truth.

How is it different, you're wondering. Maybe a simple example can help. So here we have this not so slim friend (that's a half truth, let's be sincere and call her fat) that takes me shopping so that I help her buy a dress for a party. Off she comes the fitting room in a short and tight flashy red dress.

Here's me making up a lie: This dress and this color are really nice on you!

And here's me not saying all truth: This dress and this color are nice. What I'm not saying: BUT NOT ON YOU!

The reasons to withhold all truth range from cowardice to sensitivity to plain avoidance of committing sincericide. Yes, there is such a thing as "sincericide". Both the lies and the truths we tell can be told in a way which doesn't dig a hole for ourselves.

Image from odesk.com
Image from odesk.com

Anyhow, all this to ask the following question: What if we were genetically programmed NOT to be able to lie, ever, in any circumstance? Then we'd be dogs. So let me formulate the question in a different manner: What if we were born with a red light on top of our heads that turned on every time were weren't being totally sincere?

To an extent, we already come equipped with a sort of primitive mechanism to point others in the direction of insincerity: blushing.  However, blushing serves so many purposes besides pointing the way to a lie told, and it's so easy to manipulate at will that it can't really be used to identify lies.

So, again, I'll try to formulate the question differently: Can you imagine a world without lies of any variety? Frankly, I can't.

Image from clearlabelling.com
Image from clearlabelling.com

World without lies

I try to imagine a world where we were all born with a traffic light on top of our head:

Green means I'm telling what I absolutely and sincerely believe to be the truth. I could be telling an inaccuracy, but if the light turns green it means that I believe this inaccuracy to be the truth.

Yellow means I'm not completely making it up, but I'm not being totally sincere with what I think, either.

Red, finally, means I'm outright lying, that is, speaking the opposite of what I think is the truth, or fabricating a truth for your ears only.

Can you imagine what the world would be like if we walked down the street with this cute traffic light on top of our heads? I mean, besides being a hilarious image? I just can't. It would mean that the human race would have to reinvent itself, start from scratch, learn to live in a society where little white lies or monumental dishonesties wouldn't have a place, and I just can't think how it would all work out in this day and age.

Some implications of living in a world without lies, or rather, without undetected lies:

1. Privacy and protection of self-image and thoughts would be gone or seriously undermined.

2. At the same time, we wouldn't be able to get away with lying through our teeth. Maybe no one would be the wiser with what we think is the truth, but everyone would be able to see that we're just not saying it.

3. Along the lines of the previous implication, we would have to own up to what we think, or not, but everyone would know we aren't owning up, because they would have a yellow or red light all shiny pointing the way to insincerity.

4. Avoidance of issues wouldn't happen or it wouldn't be such a frequent and common occurrence, the visual indicator on top of our heads would push us to having to deal with true opinions, true feelings.

I could continue with implications of living in a world of detectable lies, but I think I made my point of just how unthinkable it sounds that all of a sudden lies don't have a place in the world.

Nevertheless, I still haven't said what I find most difficult to conceive about this potential world without lies: That most people would rather see a red light of top of everyone's head, including their own, because that would mean implications 1, 2, 3, 4 and 20 wouldn't have any meaning, effect or consequence, and we'd be back to square 1, a world with lies, with the odd green light here and there that would make us all go OHHH and AHHH, fancy that, someone being sincere.

It's not uncommon that the green light of hidden truths threatens our stability and forces us to face up to our fears, so in my opinion we'd rather go out on the street with a shinny red light on top of our heads to protect our inner feelings, that is, we'd rather live in a world of lies.

Does it sound like science fiction?

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Comments 93 comments

Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

Nicely done. You've shown that lies are not absolute but form a continuum from near truth to deliberate deception. You're right about dogs too. That's why cats are far more interesting - they have the lie down to a fine art!


Hawkesdream profile image

Hawkesdream 7 years ago from Cornwall

Such a thought provoking hub, yes we all lie at some point in our lives, and sometimes, when, we fear telling the truth would hurt someone else, are we very economical with the truth.


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

Perhaps it isn't lying that is the problem. As you point out, sincerity can come at a cost. For me, it is the underlying reasons behind the lie that count. Some lies are just downright unforgiveable, whilst most either pass off unnoticed, or are even expected. Something to ponder on.


VioletSun profile image

VioletSun 7 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

The image of a red light on top of our heads is comical, my s/o Phil walked into my office when I was reading this part of your hub, and we started playing with the image by asking each other "questions", and waiting for the red light to blink, LOL!   Regarding a world without white little lies to spare a person's feelings, it can't be done, because we all have our perceptions, meaning just because we think something is "ugly" as an example, doesn't mean it IS, it's our perception, so it not necessarily the other person's "truth".  Hope I am making sense, its late right now so my mind is not that alert. :)

Enjoyed this hub, very thought provoking, and the green light is blinking. LOL!  


Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Hi Paraglider, thanks for reading and the comment. I guess affirming that lies are absolutely "bad" would be like affirming that one holds the absolute truth, wouldn't it? :-)

Hawkes - "economical with the truth", I like that way of saying it :-) I may even borrow it!

Amanda, you may be right indeed, the reasons behind the lies being what should really "concern" us. You're most welcome to do a follow up on this one, I'm sure in your line of work you have a lot of experience with lies and the reasons behind :)

Violet, that made me laugh, and my green light is also blinking! You're right about perceptions, the point is, are we being sincere with what we perceive as "ugly"? :-) Sometimes we are, sometimes ... not so much!


franciaonline profile image

franciaonline 7 years ago from Philippines

Good hub, Elena! You're offering a thought-provoking possibility on how life could be lived. Indeed, white lies are all around us everyday!


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

Strangely enough Elena, I suspect I've heard more 'truths' than people realise they've let slip! Sometimes truth is the heaviest of burdens to bear alone.


Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Thanks, francia! Something to ponder, isn't it?

Amanda, I think I see an essay waiting to be written there, don't you? :)


pgrundy 7 years ago

Hi Elena--Another very thought provoking one. One thought that it provoked in me is that so often the truth is complicated and hard to frame. Or there can be many truths, all standing in relationship to each other. I was married to a man who had an interrogatory conversation style. It was exhausting. It was like living with an eight year old. He wanted THE single answer to every question and then no other discourse until he asked the next question. So I suppose he saw that as getting the truth out of everyone but I saw it more as him insisting on acting like a dick. But more to the point of your thoughts here, the picture he got was often wrong, it wasn't a true picture of the world, because he could only see truths he could already imagine. Since he only asked questions, he could get no new answers. I'm going on too long again. Great hub! :D


Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Hi, Pam!  I think you're right on both counts that the truth can be hard to frame, and that sometimes there isn't a single truth --if EVER!  But does that mean that we're being insincere when we can't frame "the truth" precisely, or when we speak part of the truth as we see it, to be complemented by the next person to speak? In other words, we're not being deliberately insincere, just partially "blindsided" if you will.

Now, your ex was simply deliberately obtuse, if you'll excuse my saying so! And with that style, what he probably got most of the times were a lot of yellow and red lights, to follow the analogy :-)


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States

I've known and lived with a good number of people who see truth only in terms of "their own truth" chiseled in stones so large they are unmovable -- very tiring when they can't look at all sides of what may or may not be truth. Truth isn't black and white in my world -- it's in technicolor.


pgrundy 7 years ago

You ask, "...does that mean that we're being insincere when we can't frame "the truth" precisely, or when we speak part of the truth as we see it, to be complemented by the next person to speak?"

I think in many cases it is just a cooperative conversational style that isn't validated in this culture, but in other cultures it is. (I'm thinking of some African cultures where agreement is indicated by clicks and sounds from the listener as a person speaks.) Certainly we can use this way to talking to be insincere and flatter, but often I think it's a way of building consensus, of finding areas of agreement, rather than areas of difference. We're very used to adversarial conversation in the West and tend to frame everything as a debate--to highlight differences. But it's also completely TRUE that any two people will have areas of agreement and sameness, and we can, if we wish, speak in a way that is structured to bring those commonalities to the forefront. I think that we don't do enough of this.


Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 7 years ago from India

Is a red light...or red ears or red face...worse than a nose like Pinocchio's that grows every time you utter an untruth? There's always something that gives you away when you're spinning tales, and that's possibly what acts as some sort of deterrant. But, as you said Elena, there are lies and then there are lies...


Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 7 years ago from The Other Bangor

Validation is a real human need, often inculcated so early into children that they grow up not realizing that much of their interaction with others has little to do with any concept resembling "truth," in favor of the convenience and efficacy of lies. This makes truth an occasional, rather than a natural habit, and it's difficult to make people see that it's even an issue, since most folk like to think of themselves as honest. The fabric of society itself is, indeed, a woven tissue of mutual deception, whether unconscious or deliberate. A very thought-provoking hub, Elena.


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio

Very insightful hub.....If lies and exaggerations were made true....isn't that a chilling thought?


Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Jerilee, absolutely, the truth is relative and hence technicolor :-) I guess this has turned into a forum about the truth, while my emphasis had been more on the lies -- but I'm with you, and the world is like it is because there are usually many shades to a simple "truth"

Pam, maybe we don't do enough of the cooperative conversational style, hmmm, I think we do that when we feel in a secure environment, maybe less when we aren't sure of who we're talking to. In any event, I don't suppose this type of cooperative pursue of "truths" would turn any yellow or red lights on, so to speak. Sometimes one just doesn't have a formed opinion until they hear others frame theirs (what you were saying initially), but that doesn't mean we're lying, just that we still don't know what we think. Not sure if this reply makes sense, I think I gave me a headache! :-)

Feline, yes there are many brands of lies. Some will come out, others maybe never... except if we're Pinocchio or have a red light on our heads :-)

Teresa, I sit here reading your comment and it makes me think that someone more apt with language... such as yourself, ought to have written about this topic :-) You captured exactly what I was aiming at, and in a single paragraph. Where do I subscribe for lessons now? :-) BESOS!


Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Tom, that's totally chilling ... outright Orwellian, actually!


\Brenda Scully 7 years ago

I was thinking about writing a hub about this subject, but now you have I don't need to bother thanks a lot..... I am lazy, you know...... Guess what.... I cannot lie, I don't think I have ever ever lied..... maybe that is why I don't get far in life.... but honestly, i don't


SEM Pro profile image

SEM Pro 7 years ago from North America

Wonderful hub Elena - enjoyed it thoroughly! Same question as the "truth awareness guage" I wrote about in many ways. I find myself thrown into the hole from "sincericide" all the time. I do recognize why folks push me into it when too "truthful" revealing fears but personally, I believe that through vulnerability, we stop lying to ourselves and getting repeatedly hurt by the same misconceptions. That accomplishes much, with clarity manifesting at a rapid pace - sometimes great - if it's "honestly" what is wanted lol 

Your point is well taken - exercising compassion can be much more valuable than candor at times. Yet, my real friends know, I'll tell them that red dress sucks and proceed to help them find a more flattering, comfortable dress. They say that's what they love about me. I don't have too many "real" friends though LOL The ones I do have are equally honest with me - and I love them! Green lights do help us move forward...


Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Brenda, you got off easy then :-) But you can still do your take, can't you? And seriously, you've never ever lied? That is surely a Guiness record! :-)

SEM Pro, howdo! Your comment about not having many "real" friends made me laugh :-) In all fairness I don't have many "real" friends either, I'm not sure if it's because I keep to myself or because I don't lie exceedingly well! Laugh! Anyhow, I've gotten "better" about committing sincericide over the years --but I'm not sure if that's something to be proud of. I guess in certain contexts like work or in-law family it can be a "good" trait! Thanks for the HONEST comment :-)


Steve Rensch profile image

Steve Rensch 7 years ago

Black and white distinctions never really work. But the general standard for me is that truth-telling to clear the energy is good, even when uncomfortable (the red dress), because it also minimizes future pain. But truth-telling as a matter of principle serves no one but yourself. I've done too much of the latter in my life. Then, I became a part of my wife's family, where my "truth" is often not welcome, so for my wife's sake, I dilute my truth sometimes. Sell out? I don't think so. My wife's heart is more important than my principle.


Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Hello Steve, others have pointed that out, that B&W is never really a realistic option and I agree. I like what you say about truth-telling as a matter of principle serving only oneself. I would agree, too, that if the intention behind a difficult truth is good then uncomfortable may be a "collateral" that came out of a greater good. However, the greater good is not for the teller to judge or determine, but for the listener. If both are in sync, great. My "fear" is that many times people really don't want to hear stuff, even when it'd be good for them.... from our standpoint. Did that make sense?


SEM Pro profile image

SEM Pro 7 years ago from North America

Don't mind if I jump in? Someone once told me something that was way beyond my comprehension at the time. Almost 2 years to the day, they were no longer there, but their words were and it saved my life. Since then, I do make a point to make sure my own judgment isn't involved and this next point may be better in a spiritual forum, but, if you want to truly "serve" others, lying to them is a far greater injustice.

Keeping quiet may be the compassionate route at times, but really, who are we to truly judge if they are ready for the truth or not? That's the same as in the movie "A few good men" where he lied through his teeth saying, "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!" And then, the truth won and justice was served...


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States

What would I do if I had to tell the truth all the time? It's inconceivable!


Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Tom, so you'd rather the red light proudly? Laugh!  Silliness aside, I don't think I could manage it either, I don't know if many could :-)

SEM Pro, absolutelly, please feel free to jump in, I enjoy a good debate :-)  In short and to the point: I think you're right!  What I have a bit of trouble with is the subjective nature of truth.  Just as everyone here has been saying, truth is never only black or white.  For that same reason, what for you or I may be compassionate may be plain cruelty for another.  But thanks for reminding me of that movie, it's certainly VERY appropriate to this discussion, and I think you make a very good point with it!


someonewhoknows profile image

someonewhoknows 7 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

Tom Cornett has hit on the truth when it comes to politics lies and exaggerations are the truth when it comes to many politicians.But to be fair George Bush sr. did tell the truth when he said in his campaign speech no new taxes.He just didn't tell us the whole truth.He never said he wouldn't try to raise the taxes we already paid.So much for the truth when it comes to politicians and taxes,if they don't come right out and tell you a lie they usually end up telling half truths,or lie through omission of the whole truth,and nothing but the truth as they say in courts of law.The fact that he was head of the f.b.i. didn't help either lol.They probably lie like many police detectives do when they try to convince a suspect that they are guilty of a crime they didn't commit.Almost as bad as Russia's K.G.B or hitler's .S.S.

There is some evidence that former vice president Cheney lied about troops being on the Saudi border just before we were encouraged to go to war yet again with Iraq.

I think former president Clinton was a born lier. You know his father was a salesmen and we all know how well they "sometimes" lie to get us to buy something right!

Tom Rubenoff Did you see the comedy movie "Liar,Liar, with "Jim Carey" where he has to tell the truth for 24 hours because his son prayed to God to force him to because he was always lying to him about going to do things together as father and son? It was hilarious and serious all at the same time.

I wrote a poem about the truth as a matter of fact ,it's in my profile page.


SEM Pro profile image

SEM Pro 7 years ago from North America

If someone tells me "their" truth and it really ticks me off, I simply look at that as a fabulous lesson for me (nother hub's point). If it wasn't an issue with me, I would feel no emotion at all, or if it had been an issue and I've dealt with it, there is a compassionate response.

I too enjoy a great debate and debating with valid points of view, we aren't looking to "hurt" the other person, we're looking to learn - where's the truth? where's the line? Is there a new point of view we haven't discovered that eliminates the confusion? i.e. if lying is OK all the time and we really believe that when sharing the realities, truths or life lessons we've learned, we're only serving ourselves, well hell, let's all just bs our way through life and learn nothing (?) Sorry Steve but if you're tip toeing on egg shells without being able to speak up for yourself or speak what you believe is true, that may get old.

After having Lupus, which metaphysically means you'd rather die than speak up for yourself, I decided I'd rather speak up. That doesn't mean I jump on everyone because I think I'm "more right" than they are (only you Steve :)), it simply means if your point of view is that different, it might be advantageous to say it a little differently, or with subtlety - but definitely eliminating judgment - that's what serves no one.


fortunerep profile image

fortunerep 7 years ago from North Carolina

I say I never lie but telling my daughter she looks beautiful when her makeup is may to much or the shoes just don't match, I guess it is like men lying to their wives, no honey you look great!! It is a point of being too blunt and making the truth seem less judgememtal. That's my excuse anyway.

dori


SEM Pro profile image

SEM Pro 7 years ago from North America

there's a great point there dori - the "line" of what's subtle and what's mean etc. I met a lady once who used to tell her daughter she looked ugly without make-up on. Her daughter said other people said she looked great to which her mom said, "they're all lying" YIKES - poor kid. Even after her mom dies she'll never be able to look in a mirror and feel good about herself I'm sure. That's judgmental!

I think guys say what they say because you're supposed to be beautiful no matter what your make up looks like to them - and they know it :)


Jodi Hoeksel profile image

Jodi Hoeksel 7 years ago

I really like the points you have made here, Elena! I feel if you think someone looks like crap, just zip your lip! Regarding truth, I feel a lot of truth is individual perception of what each believes. However, I also see many blatant lies to deceive and create so many smoke clouds sometimes the truth is difficult to find. Very deep and expansive topic for me. Thanks for the great read!


Steve Rensch profile image

Steve Rensch 7 years ago

SEMPro - When I was first with my wife's family, I was so out there with "my truth" that some of them started calling me "Steve F..k..g Rensch" when I wasn't around. That wasn't real good for my wife. I had a choice of concluding that they were too defensive about the skeletons in their closets, or that I was way over the line. I chose to go with the latter interpretation because I can change myself but cannot change them (assuming they even needed it). Shutting my mouth felt like lying for awhile. No longer.


emohealer profile image

emohealer 7 years ago from South Carolina

I love the term sincericide, never heard it before. So many deep comments already. I too envisioned the traffic light and saw the humour, but also realised that it wouldn't change as much as I imagined, because how many times do we believe what we are saying is true and the green light would flash, when in fact the information was actually false. Well written, much needed information, you did a great job presenting, thanks.


Paper Moon profile image

Paper Moon 7 years ago from In the clouds

Great Hub! (ok, that was a lie)

Only kidding, I loved it. (and that is not a lie)


Suiiki profile image

Suiiki 7 years ago from City of the Newly Wed and Nearly Dead

I think what's important in deciding whether to lie or tell the truth, is to think "What will the consequences be? Why am I lying? Who am I lying to?" In an ideal world, we'd never need to lie, because telling the truth would not lead to harsh, unpleasant outcomes. But in this world, it can be more damaging to be honest.

"Yes, Em, that dress DOES make you look like a cow."

"Well, fudge you too, Michelle!" (Em storms off in a rage and doesn't speak to me for a month)

She may have told me to be honest, but it still put a strain on our friendship when I was. A larger woman should NEVER wear a tight, black and white dress, but I digress. I should have said something more like, "Well, I'm not fond of that dress. Maybe you should get the nice blue on over on the other rack." and not said WHY I wasn't fond of the dress.

On the other hand, a situation like "What did you get me for Christmas, big sister?" with an answer "Oh dear, Christmas IS tomorrow, isn't it? I totally forgot!" is also acceptable, because it keeps the surprise intact and everyone KNOWS you are just trying to be cute.

However, if something happens and you've made a mistake that you just don't want to admit, it is always better to tell the truth...for instance, if you forget to pay a bill. I've had experience where a bill has not been paid, and when I have returned the company's phone call, even though they couldn't eliminate the late fee, they have stopped it from getting bigger by the day if I promise that the check is in the mail. Normally the outcome has been "Well, if we get the payment by tuesday, then we won't charge you late fees from today on." Or something like that.

Also I can honestly say that, other than things similar to the Christmas example I gave earlier, I have never lied to my wife. We're going on two years of marriage soon, and were friends for years before that. Every couple I know with a history of being dishonest with each other has divorced within a year of marriage. When a small dishonesty occurs, it usually spirals into a pattern of larger deceptions. Also, when you lie to someone who is that close to you, then you will eventually be caught, and the consequences are generally devastating.

Even the illusion of a falsehood can have difficult consequences. When we were in a long distance relationship, when we were dating (And for a while, newly married), I told my wife I enjoyed being outside and walking and I was a real outdoors girl. It's true, I love being outside. But I haven't been in the best of health this past year and a bit, and due to that, I have gained weight...I was already a heavy girl but now I am in such poor shape that my asthma has gotten worse, and I cannot be outside as much as either of us would like. My wife told me once, "I feel like I've been lied to and betrayed...we never go out and do outdoorsy-type stuff." I had to explain to her that I used to go out all the time, and most of the good memories of my childhood were hiking with my best friend...but I cannot do it as much anymore, and I'm doing my best to get healthy again so we can go out. I hate being stuck inside all the time. The fact that I have no healthcare right now (Not a permanent resident yet) doesn't help, because we can't figure out why I have been so sick, nor can I get on a medically approved and monitored program to get my weight under control. But it was a sore point for a while that I could never keep up with plans and promises. It did put a strain on our relationship. I've been doing a little bit better recently and we are getting out more. But we are still no where close to what I'd like and I know that I still have to break promises sometimes because I am just too sick...having trouble breathing or having debilitating headaches that woon't go away. It looks like I lie, but I hope my wife realizes how draining it is to be sick, especially when you are used to being very healthy, despite minor problems.


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 7 years ago from St. Louis

I doubt I am the first to say that sometimes, lying is the right thing to do. But I'll take it one step further: I don't think we are under any obligation to tell the truth, or we shouldn't be. If you ask me a question, so what? That doesn't give you the right to a truthful answer just because you asked. I am justified in whatever I decide. I can remain silent, refuse to answer, or lie. It's totally my choice as I don't owe the asker anything anyway. It is the same way that some people think that because you have a phone, that you are then obligated to answer it. Wrong. I don't have a phone for their convenience. I have one for my convenience, and I'll answer it or not to suit me. Well, I hope somewhere in that gibberish I got my point across.


Cris A profile image

Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

Elena.

I'm definitely not over and above lies and lying like most everyone else. I think they're a necessary evil - a coping mechanism, a defense mechanism, or a need for good to prevail. And even to people who believe it's a greater sin, lies and lying are there to validate what they contradict.

Another thought provokingly great hub mi amiga. Now, would I lie to you? :D


Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Good morning everyone, and thank you for the great comments.

Someonewhoknows – You touch on politics and, mama mia, that's a mega topic when it comes to lies and half truths. Primarily, I think that politicians lie by omission OR don't say what they really think (yellos light all over the place) because their job consists of telling what people want to hear, not what they really think.  :)

SEM Pro – Eliminating judgment is one thing, withholding it is something else :-)  But I'm splitting hairs, both relate to "not saying what you think is the truth, or the full truth", which I'm yet to decide if equates to "lying by omission".  I don't think it's quite the same. Maybe I'm splitting hairs again :-)

fortunerep – It's your excuse and that of 90% of the worlds' population, I'm thinking :)  I like the concept of making the truth (your opinion, anyway) seem less judgmental –as opposed to calling it a half lie. As it's been said in previous comments, I think the judgmental component depends greatly on the listener more than on the teller.

Jodi –Indeed, others have referred to the relativity of truth, it depends on perceptions and it's never fully black or white. For that reason, I don't really know where the line lays between a little white lie and a blatant lie. Again, it probably depends on circumstance?


Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Steve – I think your chosen behavior with your in-laws is not as much a matter of lying as of "survival". But again that depends on interpretation, and we're back to the gray nature of truth.

emohealer – feel free to borrow "sincericide" :)  If you're convinced that you're saying the truth then the light turns green. What could happen with that is that you surprise the heck of your counterpart because they would see that you're being fully honest because you believe what you're saying, even if for them it's really not the truth. Possibly, that would be a great thing as it'd be the best way to "prove" that there are many truths to go round.

Paper Moon, your lights are blinking madly :-)  Thanks! (green light!)

Suiiki – You have the whole range of possible lies in there, the little ones and the blatant. Where is the line? I guess it's personal and each person can know if they ask themselves the questions that you ask at the beginning of your comment.  Possibly, there is a common perception on what is a blatant lie, but not always, as I've participated in discussions regarding cheating and whether to "confess" or not, some people would say OF COURSE you confess and others would say NO.  So there you go.


Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Chris, I positively like your "step forward". We are our own bosses and don't "owe the truth" to anyone. Which is in itself another kind of truth – not about the world but about ourselves. Your phone analogy... I could kiss you for it :)

Cris A – Would you lie to me? Hmmm, I'm waiting for some kind of light to turn on on top of your sexy head :-)  You are right that in many events lying is a coping mechanism.  Steve mentioned the fact that telling the full truth, on principle, doesn't serve any purpose except oneself. Conversely, lying for the sake of lying doesn't serve much purpose except dig a hole for oneself.  But the mid term? Sometimes, in some circumstances.... indeed it helps coping.


G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

Well most all has been said...Lies are a part of life...one thing I have learned is 'people think what they want no matter what you tell them' so really all you are doing is protecting your inner self..I think **sighs** great subject...:O) Hugs


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Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Hello, G-Ma! I tend to think you're right, and I also know it like this: "People will believe what they want to believe, so don't bother them with facts" :) Hugs back at you!


Linda Myshrall 7 years ago

Here comes my amiga with another one of her mind-benders.  I can absolutely never resist it when I see that you have a new hub! 

So.  decir la verdad.  I think we would need to be able to quantify perception before we could really trust the traffic light, as the truth for you and for me would most likely be quite different.  The 'truth' is really based on perception which is individual because we see the world through our cultural, familial and educational filters, right?  I mean, in some cultures it is ok to stone a woman for infidelity.  If you are raised to believe that that is a sin that is worth torturing over, would your red light not go off if you responded "no" when asked, "Have you sinned?".  But to others in the same situation, the green light would be blinking and whirling like a disco ball, because they would not perceive the behavior as a sin, therefore they would believe they were telling the truth.  

My uncle, bless his heart, loves 'plus size' women.  To him, your big friend in the red dress would, in fact look great in it.

You get the idea...  Without being able to weigh perception, my lovely traffic light hat wouldn't be able to know if I was lying or not. =)

As usual- loved your hub.


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Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

And, as usual, Linda, I loved your comment :)   You are absolutely right about perceptions making the lights be different colors for the same question for different people.  Actually, I explicitly refer to that in the hub, my light would go green if I BELIEVE what I'm saying to be the truth.

As many others have said above, the truth isn't uniquely black or white, it has many shades, BUT what I'd find telling about the green light is that it would demonstrate sincerity of whoever I'm talking to.  Maybe your friend and I wouldn't agree with our tastes in plus size perceptions, but we would both understand that we're being HONEST about them.  That is what a world without lies implies, that you see whether people are saying what they think or are lying through their teeth.

The implications aren't as phenomenal if we'd discussing opinions and tastes, but what about with questions such as "did you cheat?" or "would you like to date my mother" or "do you like me" ? :-)


Linda Myshrall 7 years ago

Ohhhhhh.  I get it and I like it!  I think that maybe there would be fewer liars if we had traffic lights on our head (and the visual alone makes me chuckle) that ratted us out... in some cultures (like certain politcal ones) the 'wrong deed,' is not the sin, just 'getting caught,' so some wouldn't lie just because they would get caught.  We still wouldn't know for sure if they are weasles, only that they are not willing to lie in order not to get caught.  Still, not a bad thing at all.  In other cases it would just be nice to know if someone was willing to lie despite the fact that they know they will be caught.  Now, that would take some nerve.  Would your lie detector go off if I first think of a lie, then change to green if I decide to speak the truth?  That might also say something about one's character.

I guess you can tell that I am totally intrigued by this whole notion? 


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Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Hello, Linda -- It does seep through that you are intrigued by this whole topic :-) The implications go on and on, don't they?! Imagine determining character by a "planned lie that came up as a truth" ... fascinating! How come you're not writing your own hub about this as we speak? :-)


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Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

I'm a big House fan :)


Leta S 7 years ago

Lots of good discussion here, Elena. I approach truth in a few different ways, ;). If one is talking about what I like to frame as artistic truth--I think it can be had--or we strive for such things (truth is, beauty is). The best works contain the most truth and they are (as it is) multi-dimensional.

If we are talking interpersonal politics, or work place politics, my approach to truth is 'muted,' lol, in a benign, Machiavellian way, as that in the largest sense is for the common good, which actually, brings most of the time, the most Truth with the capital 'T.'

If we are talking about true politics, I believe the truth is out there more than the hoi polloi would know, a la Walter Kronkite type journalistic truth--which CAN be had, even if it is not fashionable to think that way in Amerika these days (or even in the world at large). Sigh...


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Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Hello, Lita! Indeed there are many areas where lies, or truth --or our version of truth-- apply. What I refer to in this itsy bitsy piece here is whether it would be possible or even desirable that the whole world knows that we are speaking, or not, what we believe to be the truth --in any aspect -personal, or otherwise. It wouldn't really mean that we speak The TRUTH, just that we are sincere with what we're saying.... imagine that! :-)


Leta S 7 years ago

Soooo many varieties of sincerity, too. Soooo many ways to be misunderstood, I have found, as well. It is well that there be connections to some where truth of a sort is possible. For the rest, and the world as a whole, I know not what is in reality truth (!) How's that for existentialism? :)


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Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Truth of sorts is indeed possible (yellowlight), and a simple belief of truth is also possible (green light), and a distortion of truth is also possible (red light). I think existentialist & and ists could also wear a traffic light on their heads -- I'm one and I centainly could :)


Jewels profile image

Jewels 7 years ago from Australia

Great hub. How true and I loved what Teresa said about validation. Being invalidated is one sure way a child learns how to lie. The truth is not our normal default behavior. I don't know how many times someone has asked "how are you" when they really don't want to know the answer, but are in fact opening the door for them to tell you how they are and what they are doing. We twist our conversations in order to get what we need and it's done through deception.

I thought the show House was great when it first came out. Was so refreshing for this guy to be speaking the truth, in all it's brashness. In reality it was so bloody honest.

And I'd rather my friend tell me if I looked bad in that slinky red dress and offer a better alternative. Nicely of course.


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Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Howdo, Jewels! I was also impressed by Teresa's comment, and I'm furiously nodding as I read yours :) How many times the opener "how are you" is a kind of synonym "let me tell you about me"! I dig House, too, I've often wondered how long I'd last by speaking exactly what's on my mind, plainly and uncensored? And that's not as much about speaking The Truth, but saying what one thinks with all the words?


Jewels profile image

Jewels 7 years ago from Australia

I think you'd be slam dunked in your own coffee Elena. But to be honest (lol) I'm really giving truth a go. Sort of have to watch the p's and q's but I'm learning to cut thru bull like no-ones business. Mainly because I'm tired of being lied to, and with all the psych type work I do I can see thru so much I don't have time to waste on the layers over the top - see what I mean? Those traffic lights you're talking about are really bullsh*t meters. Excuse the spanish!

I have this little voice inside my head that wants to yell back at people "Don't ask me how I am unless you really want to know!" Then people will stop asking cause they really don't want to know. Ahem!

Now to be kinder on the world - I am really truly learning how to speak my truth without being aggressive. Boy, it's like being a diplomat. I think that's what I'll be good at in my next life. LOL.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

Most of our thoughts are the truth...it is only when we open our mouths and say things that the truth becomes manipulated into a lie for various reasons like trying to spare another's feelings, etc. As the old saying goes, "Silence is golden!"

Good hub spurring a lot of thoughts! (Green light blinking!)


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

Elena - I didn't want to jump in with this earlier, but your hub is along the lines of a poem I wrote a while back. If you don't like external links, feel free to delete this :)

http://dave-mcclure.blogspot.com/2008/02/on-truth....


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Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Jewels, I'm laughing at the "bullsh*t meter" definition :-) And yes, speaking our own truth --which is just an opinion, to put it plainly-- requires diplomacy in many occasions. Some days it's just too much work and one feels like just screaming, hey this is what I think and you can get over it or wander off! Laugh!

Peggy, you are right that lies reside fundamentally in the gap between mind and mouth :) Our thoughts are generally sincere (unless we're deluding ourserlves, voluntarity or because we're plain sick), it's when we open our mouth that incincerity seeps in.

Paraglider, of course I *won't* remove the link! I've visited and I wish more people do, if they see it here :-) Thanks for posting it!


Erick Smart 7 years ago

It seems impossible to have a world without lies. That would mean no Santa Clause and having to tell the truth instead of a white lie when you do not want to hurt someones feelings.


Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Eric, I tend to agree. As I said in the article, I just don't see how it could work in the world we know today. Maybe in another new and braver world...


countrywomen profile image

countrywomen 7 years ago from Washington, USA

Elena- Very nicely woven hub. I am with Christoph as far as being able to reveal oneself completely to one and all. There are some folks who have there own reasons to reveal more and others who have there own reasons to conceal more. Not revealing truth isn't always a lie. But jumping to false conclusions when truth isn't clear is equally fraught with its own shortcomings. Thumbs up and Besos. :D


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Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Besos to you, countrywomen, glad to see you around here :) Not revealing all truth isn't necessarily a lie, I agree, unless maybe you lead your counterpart to believe things that aren't true by avoidance of such truth :)


countrywomen profile image

countrywomen 7 years ago from Washington, USA

Now that is a truthful comment. ;)

I know I am being a stranger and now trying to work on it. :D


Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Ding Dong Ding! My green light is all alight! :)

I'm sure you've got your reasons for being a bit of a stranger, that's perfectly fine, just know it's nice to see you 'round whenever you get the chance :-)


countrywomen profile image

countrywomen 7 years ago from Washington, USA

I wish I get the "chance" always. I really miss you all. Got to go to bed now. Have a great day. Besos.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

I love when you said if we didn't lie we'd all be dogs. In a world without lies, how could you keep a job or keep a friend.


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Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Dolores, I don't know if you could :-) Not the way the world is today, at any rate. Maybe friends ... but a job? In-laws? Hmmm, don't think so :)


Iphigenia 7 years ago

I love Teresa's point about validation - like saying 'I lie, therefore I am' Of course we all lie and most of the time it's to protect others or for our own privacy.

Surely the most harmful lies are the ones that we tell ourselves. Self-deception sucks.


\Brenda Scully 7 years ago

guess what..... just coming back to this hub.... i have been reading all comments we were brought up not to believe in Santa Claus because it was a lie....


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Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Hello, Iphigenia! Yes, Teresa made a wonderful point, she made me wish she'd written this article instead of me! And what you say about self-deception, I can only nod emphatically. Sometimes I wonder how people manage to lie to themselves, but I guess it's not really about telling yourself lies and more about not wanting to see or admit the truth...

Brenda, is that a fact?! WOW! I'm not not the least bit facetious, I'm really impressed as this is such an uncommon occurrence!


someonewhoknows profile image

someonewhoknows 7 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

L -IFE

I -S

E -MPTY


\Brenda Scully 7 years ago

It is the absolute truth never ever celebrated christmas


someonewhoknows profile image

someonewhoknows 7 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

Athough it is nice to have a holiday where gifts are exchanged.What we think is a lie is often the truth.

Now that I'm all grown up I see the lie behind Christmas is that it is really a marketing stratagy by the department stores ,and manufacturers to sell their goods to the public.A major portion of their profits are made during Christmas and Halloween and they are diametrically opposed holidays in spirit at that.


Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

I don't care much if at all for Xmas now, but I had a thing for it when I was a kid. May have had to do with the school break, to be honest :-)


swathin2 profile image

swathin2 7 years ago

i think the comments that you have in your hub are more informational that the content you have in the hub.i like the way people interacted on your hub.

any way if there is a world with out Lies then it will be really wonderful.


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Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

That's right swathin2, comments are better than the hub, guess that makes me a crapy writer and a fabulous moderator :-)


Lgali profile image

Lgali 7 years ago

amazing hub thanks


sbeakr 7 years ago

What an inspiring topic...and your traffic-light metaphor is not only sound, but wonderfully thought-provoking. I might aspire to broach this subject myself! Well done!


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Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

sbeakr, by all means, please grab the topic and run with it, I'd be delighted to read your take, you weave words like not many around here.


Vizey profile image

Vizey 7 years ago

A world without lies. Great thought. But this is impossible. We speak lies every day and will keep speaking lies all our lives. That's life.


Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid Author

Hi Vizey! I don't think it's possible in the current conception of the world and its human relationships. What's more, I'm not sure it's desirable :)


amulets profile image

amulets 6 years ago from Singapore

Very good hub about lies. I do believe that there is good lies and bad lies. Sometimes it's good to give a white lie but giving a person hopes instead of a bad lie that harms a person.

You have written very well and enjoy reading it. Thanks!


amulets profile image

amulets 6 years ago from Singapore

I always feel bad should I ever do a bad lie. Most of the time, I will consider by putting myself in the same situation if the lie will be bad when someone has done it to me.

That way, I will know if the lie will be acceptable and not doing any harm. So if white lie is doing good, why not?


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Elena. 6 years ago from Madrid Author

Thanks for your thoughts, amulets! I guess the harm factor is what weights the most, in my mind. But sometimes, the harm is done to oneself, with all the lying. One ends up not knowing which way is up. Take care!


RecoverToday profile image

RecoverToday 6 years ago from United States

This is an honest take on the subject of lying. Reminds me that there is 'willful lying' and 'unwillful lying'. Very good article. I like your approach to the subject.


Elena. profile image

Elena. 6 years ago from Madrid Author

Thanks RecoverToday, and yes, there are many varieties of lies, from the "big" willful one to little insincerities to ... it's a rather fascinating topic, isn't it :-)


Majorshadow 6 years ago


howcurecancer profile image

howcurecancer 5 years ago

It can't be worls without lies... it will be Heaven!


Elena. profile image

Elena. 5 years ago from Madrid Author

It can't be a world without lies because it can't be a world without lies ... never mind Heaven :-)


youbetyourwrasse 5 years ago

Elena:

It sounds like you were up all night! :D

Your ideas are inspired. What if we all agreed to support and assist each other in keeping the green? What if maybe the "warning" and redlight were wired to "us" and created an unpleasant sensation for us if our light changed?* Which makes perfect sense, as the "signals" are ATTACHED to our heads! :]

The REDLIGHT would let EVERYONE know you had lied... and to WHOM you could NOT tell the truth!!!! Shame on them too! We would understand the responsibility we have to and for each other. And it's easy. Let people have a place to talk... where they are NOT judged! If they (the deceiver) need to be exiled then so be it!

*What if that "unpleasant sensation" is GUILT?

denatured nature


Elena. profile image

Elena. 5 years ago from Madrid Author

Youbet -- thanks for the comment! I don't think we need a red light to experience that "unpleasant sensation" called GUILT :-) However, I think the unpleasantness must be bearable in most cases, OR there'd be a whole lot less people lying than there are nowadays :-)


FullOfLoveSites profile image

FullOfLoveSites 4 years ago from United States

Interesting Hub, i liked the idea of traffic lights.

Keep it up!!!


Wayloatly 3 years ago

We accustomed to get at the top of life nevertheless recently I have established a new amount of resistance.


Sanxuary 3 years ago

Lying is a learned behavior and its really not that hard to be completely honest. The World it self however lies at every turn. Its steeped in agendas, deadly sins and greed. Denial is the biggest lie we are told and the worst thing we constantly do to ourselves. We deny a change in our life style and suffer from poor health and wrecked homes. We believe money is the answer to everything, while greed makes us slaves to people who are much greater liars. We do evil and support evil every day to keep our jobs. Dishonesty is driving force in practically all aspects of our lives. Still you do not have to be the one who does it and you can condemn this action every where else and I do it every day. I have taken the fall by doing the right thing and paid a price a few times but then again I did not have much choice. I simply refuse to be evil and I know that they will see my face again some day. They do not need my condemnation because such people condemn themselves. My memory is only their to remind them that denial can not erase the truth. There has never been a reason to lie for all facts dictate a better way to live life or to get something done. Lies are holes that get deeper and add up to even bigger lies. Denial is when you begin to believe your own lies and eventually deceive yourself. Keeping something to yourself is not a lie and tact can be used to reveal the truth. Lies that pursuit evil is another matter and you should watch out for Wolves and Bears. Wolves look for victims and Bears manage the systems that promote hostile places and distrust to those that oppose their agenda.


Elena. profile image

Elena. 3 years ago from Madrid Author

Thanks for your thoughts, Sanxuary. You got that right, lies are holes that get deeper and lead to bigger lies. There's nothing much that snowballs quite as fast as a lie :)

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