Those little white lies. Some will tell us that
every single instance when we "bend" the truth
is wrong, for the "truth" must always be
told. As we grow older and wiser in life, though, we
learn that sometimes the truth itself can be very harmful,
and that we may want to watch what we say when we're faced
with an opportunity to tell the whole truth and nothing
but the truth, or a version of the truth that may be more
helpful and compassionate to others.
Sometimes it can be good to bend the truth to spare
someone else's feelings. When a child brings
something that they've drawn to me and asks me if I like
it, the answer's going to be "Yes, I do."
Even if I don't like it, what possible positive purpose
would I be serving by telling a child the full
truth? If someone wants to start an argument with me
and asks me a question, I'm fully within my rights to
react to another person's negative intentions with words
that may not be completely true.
When we lie for self-gain or in an attempt to deceive
maliciously, then we have a problem. The truth is a
very important element in our lives, but is the full truth
a non-debatable element of our integrity? Does every
single person on this planet deserve the truth from us in
every instance? And will the words I say contribute
to the lives of others in positive or negative ways?
All of these are questions that must be answered when we
decide exactly what we're going to tell someone else, and
when and how we're going to tell it.
When I was a kid, I tried oil painting. I loved
art. I did a painting that I was pretty proud of and
I showed to to my grandmother, who proceeded to tell me
everything that she saw that was wrong with it. I
quit painting immediately, and didn't take it up again
until almost twenty years later. Yes, I was pretty
sensitive at that age, but I'll always wonder what she
thought she was accomplishing that day. She might
have had good intentions, but the truth that she shared
was much more damaging than helpful.