It has been said that honesty is the best policy, but why is that? Since we’re constantly bombarded by lies and misdirection from people we’re supposed to look up to, why is it important for us to avoid lying in turn? Let’s take a look at a few reasons why being honest is preferable to lying, any day of the week.
It’s Easier Than Lying.
“Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” — Sir Walter Scott
Have you ever told a lie and then forgotten the details about it? Sure, you may have been able to ad lib and thus save your butt for the time being, but lies tend to spiral outwards and have to be maintained with an even larger web of lies. These are incredibly tiring to maintain, and unless you want to carry a notebook with you in which you’ve written down the different fibs associated with the original lie, you’ll have a hard time keeping track of it all.
If you stick with the truth, it doesn’t matter how often you’re asked about the subject—you’ll always respond the same way, because you’re being honest about what really happened.
You Will Be Found Out.
Regardless of how airtight you think your lie is, someone will find out about it eventually.
If your kid’s hamster dies and you say that it ran away, and ten years later they accidentally dig up the rodent’s skeleton in the backyard, they’ll realize that you lied to their face and they’ll be really upset. If you call in sick to work so you can go to a convention or somesuch, your boss will inevitably see pictures of you floating around in full Klingon regalia, and then you’ll have to face the consequences of your actions.
Trust in the fact that the truth always finds a way to rise to the surface, so just own up.
The Worst Truth is Better Than the Best Lie.
No matter how badly you think someone will react when you tell them something, you can rest assured that they will be a thousand times more upset if (or rather, when) they find out that you’d lied to them. Not only that, but sometimes the lie can cause much more dismay than honesty, like telling kids that their grandmother “went to sleep” instead of letting them know that she had died. If they’re young, they’ll end up terrified of going to bed for fear that they’ll never wake up again, and if they’re older, they’ll be furious with you for being patronising towards them.
Some couples stay together for years after they no longer have feelings for one another because neither party had the guts to be honest about the situation, when they could have spent decades being happier either alone or with someone new instead. One man I know discovered, upon his father’s death at age 90, that the poor man had spent his entire life in a loveless marriage because he never had the courage to tell his wife that he was gay. Had he been honest to both himself and to his wife, she could have been with someone who actually loved and cared for her, and he could have lived his life in a way that made him happy as well.
Once Trust is Broken, It Can Never Be Fully Regained.
Although the words “I’m sorry” can ameliorate certain ugly situations, they can’t heal rifts or set things back to how they were before everything went to hell. If someone finds out that you’ve lied to them, they will never be able to fully trust you again. Ever. Even if you spend the rest of your life being a complete paragon of honesty and integrity, the person you lied to will always wonder if you’re being dishonest on some level. You can be sincere to your very marrow, but they won’t ever have true faith in you again.
Can you live with that?
There’s no such thing as a little white lie, and the fib that you tell another will inevitably come back around to bite you in the ass.
“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” Hamlet Act 1, scene 3 — William Shakespeare
I must admit that I've lied before... Put Up Your Hand If You Ever LieFeatured photo credit: cherry tree via Shutterstock