I don’t believe it is 100% possible to be 100% truthful 100% of the time. So many of us strive to be close, maybe 99.99999999999999999999999999% of the time. Who hasn’t been filled with glee when they accidentally jam a parking meter? I know this can’t be just me. But I’ve also returned money, spoke up when I was undercharged or stepped on someones toes, etc. However, $1.25 meter grievances are not what we’re talking about here.
I believe that lies and deceit commit two key injustices:
- You have altered an outcome in your favor by being dishonest.
- You have removed the recipients’ power and autonomy to take the information and choose for themselves how they feel about it, eliminating their contribution to or choices about the outcome.
Altering an outcome in your favor through dishonesty could be as simple as contesting a late fee when we all have “lost” that one parking ticket. Honestly, most of us don’t care how the court clerk feels about the outcome of us skipping out on another $25 toward our ticket. Missing an email, “forgetting” to reply to a text… etc.
Altering an outcome in your favor could also mean lying or omitting info to avoid seeing someone upset at the reality of your choice, which at its core is protecting yourself from feeling bad that you have possibly hurt someone else. Not necessarily even that you hurt them, but that you have to face their hurt. Protecting yourself from feeling bad is protecting yourself from doubt; i.e. doubting your choice. Doubting your choice can be downright paralyzing, and we all have to get on with it somehow.
#1 is so common in this world it’s practically status quo. For many people this might even simplify things when the recipient has general ill will or stubborn determination to make things difficult. That scenario is a little more complex.
For me personally, #2 is what hurts the most. Not having agency in the outcome or all the information to make a decision, especially a decision regarding our wellbeing, especially while in the process of healing and rebuilding, is incredibly hurtful. For those already on a difficult journey, this can shake a foundation they are trying to build.
Additionally, #2 contributes to feeling invisible and unworthy. We are all worthy of truth. Shit, some people need a heaping dose of it!
I believe that JK Rowling said something along the lines of the difference between truth and lies being: courage and cowardice. In an ideal transaction, we have the courage to communicate with each other (if not, why? What else is underneath?) even if the outcome is not pleasant either in the doing or the receiving. People who respect each other also typically will not feel at ease when being deceptive. Well, except sociopaths.
We do not always intend an unpleasant outcome; this is where we also must learn to detach our personal assumptions and baggage from our receiving of the doers’ choice. We have to understand each other’s perspective and needs hierarchy. Everyone is operating at their best at any given moment in time within their own set of realities and needs – even when that “best” basically sucks, or does not meet our own needs. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t have to.
I do not mean to say we should hold our choices hostage because another person might not like the outcome. I mean if the choice is important enough to make, it must also be important enough to defend openly (this is cognitive accord, AKA integrity). If you could not paste it on a 50ft billboard, in front of your loved ones, is the choice the right one? (Leave our mind-gutter choices out of this one). We must accept the range of others’ outcomes that we may then face.
I also believe it is possible, and more powerful and lasting, to alter an outcome in your favor through honesty. If your realities, goals and needs are compatible (read: not identical, but coexistent) an outcome in your favor will not harm others. If they are not compatible, the cycle will only continue to devolve… Further, honesty is the only lasting choice, because there is no underlying “alternative fact” that can rear its ugly head later. It just is. The recipient deserves to know what that “it” is and choose their own outcome accordingly.
With nearly 8 billion people on this planet, it’s not likely we will understand every single person. But, do you stop and think about how a choice impacts others? Do you stop and think how you are interpreting another persons’ choice? Comment below!