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Half Truth and White Lies!

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by BharadwajThiru, Sep 21, 2013.

  1. BharadwajThiru

    BharadwajThiru Silver IL'ite

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    Is speaking a half-truth the same as lying? This question has constantly plagued me and the answer has proven to be forever elusive.


    I believe that the desire to speak the truth is inherent in human beings. As children we learn what is considered appropriate behavior and what is not. Even as babies and toddlers we are either rewarded or frowned upon as we try new things. For example, picking up a toy and playing with it is often encouraged, but putting it in the mouth, throwing it or breaking it is often frowned upon. As humans, we want to exert our independence. In doing so, we test the boundaries of tolerance from those around us. So, consequence does not automatically translate to a lesson learned.


    For every action, there is a natural consequence and an unnatural consequence. The natural consequence is designed by nature. For example, when we touch a hot surface it burns us. When putting a toy that has a sharp edge into our mouths, it may cut us. The consequence in both these examples are the experience of pain, which I term as a "natural" consequence. I strongly believe that this is one of the best teachers. We quickly learn from it and in most cases avoid repeating the action. What I term as unnatural consequence is the one bequeathed to us from other individuals around us who observe our actions and express their feelings about it. When the child puts the toy in the mouth, the parent frowns or indicates to the child in some way that this action should not be repeated. This is a little complex. On the part of the parent, this may appear as a natural consequence. Experience has taught them that this is not safe and they "naturally" want to protect the one they love, from this undesired consequence. So, one could say that unnatural consequence are those that are conferred upon us from others who have perhaps gone through the experience prior to us.


    Why all this talk about consequence? What has this got to do with the topic at hand? I repeat; humans are born to speak the truth; experience, pleasant or unpleasant leads to adjustments. Even in those moments when a lie is spoken or truth is hidden, the individual experiences a sense of guilt. This is the premise behind the lie detector! Pathological liars may ultimately able to disregard this voice of dissent and may even be able to fool the lie detector.


    Here are some examples to illustrate the point. Let's say I come home late from work one day. My spouse is displeased and is unwilling to accept my explanation that the bus broke down. The next time I am late, I may either call her in advance to let her know that I would be late or take the chance and show up late with an explanation. If the consequence of my action does not change and I am still given the cold treatment, this could result in any number of consequences. Perhaps, I stop caring about this and ignore my spouses chastisement and continue to speak the truth; perhaps I buy her a gift or flowers each time I get back late claiming that took the additional time or perhaps I start to innovate and come up with creative excuses!


    The first of these requires a strong commitment to speaking the truth, no matter what. The second one is the sly solution where you hide the true reason for being late without actually blatantly lying. This would become blatant lying if you get someone else (perhaps your admin) to buy the gift:) or use the third option and blatantly lie. Over time, this pattern may be repeated with other situations and the improvisation continues. Gradually there is no trust and the relationship deteriorates!


    On the other hand when we let the individual learn from natural consequences and reinforce that with our own experiences instead of adding salt to the wounds by adding additional unnatural consequences, the individual is encouraged to share more and builds a strong sense for speaking the truth. Let's say a child is careless and spills coffee on the carpet and some on her/him self. The child is already suffering some pain. The first thing is to console them and lessen the pain. The next thing is to ask the child to help clean up. More than likely the stain will not completely disappear. Use this as a teaching moment to ask the child what could have been done to prevent the mishap. The child will always be reminded of this when they see the stain. They know the amount of effort that parents put in to clean the. House, for that activity takes away from the time the child can perhaps play with her parents. Isn't this consequence enough? Do we have to yell and scream how this stain is a permanent one and will cost 3 months worth of salary to replace? It is certainly not a bad idea to share the cost of these things. But for that there is a different time. Not now, when the child is in physical and mental pain.


    Sometimes we have to pretend to trust a person even when we don't! There are some minor infractions with no major consequence except embarrassment, perhaps based on the norms created by society. In order to save face, a person may chose to avoid the truth. It is perfectly ok to let that person get away. Another great example of this, I observed at my child's piano lesson. When the teacher asked if he had practiced his piano, he responded that he had practiced that particular song about 15 minutes everyday. She asked how many times a day and he said 6. Obviously this didn't seem right, so instead of calling him a liar, she said, "perhaps you didn't read the music quite right". This sent a clear message to my son without a confrontation or losing face!


    Occasionally, there may be a major issue with long-term impact that also falls into this category. Let's say you catch your child smoking for the first time. You may want to pretend you did not see him. Later you strike up a conversation and say you were surprised to see a young kid smoking. You may want to say he was about the same age as your child. You then state the harmful effects of smoking and perhaps share a story or two quoting examples from your childhood. You also talk about peer pressure and some of the things you yourself may have taken to avoid it. You end the conversation by saying I hope you don't smoke and never start. Set the expectations and then watch him closely in the future. This approach sets expectations and avoids a direct conversation allowing the child to quit gracefully. If you catch her smoking a second time, you do confront the child and again provide help as needed. Remember though that nothing can beat love when it comes to discipline. To understand what I mean, you would have to read my blog on love.


    I am still not sure if speaking half-truth or hiding truth is right or wrong. But I do know this, every time I do it, it kills me inside and I have to be born again each time this happens. Over time, I rationalize it and time is always a panacea to these wounds. I hope to build up the courage some day, meanwhile, help me keep myself honest.
     
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  2. Kamalji

    Kamalji IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Bharadwaj,

    A lovely post. A dicey subject, and i am sure most of our i lites must be sharing the same dilema. its like a friend who drank a one to many at a party and made some stupid remarks, next day he was normal, now u want to tell him what happened, and that he should avoid doing so in the future, but u dont know how to say iot directly, without hurting him. This dilema is common i guess to most of us.

    i would find a way to put it directly to the chap, or next time i would show him a clip which i took of him drunk, and show it to him how ghe behaved so he can see the truth, and delete it in front of him without anyone else hving seen it.

    At times truth hurts too, so one can avoid it, a complicated subject actually,

    Regards

    kamal
     
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  3. GoogleGlass

    GoogleGlass IL Hall of Fame

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    Holding on not to say for sometime is natural but eventually it has to be said once you know how to say that and how to face the situation after saying.

    Uttering the truth is always better than buttering a lie and hiding.
     
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  4. Padmini

    Padmini IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Bharadwaj,
    A thought provoking post narrated in a wonderful manner!!!I am saying the truth nothing but truth !!!!
    This is an important issue because it relates to the characteristics of a person and effects on personal and social relationship. In my opinion, telling the truths is better than telling lie.

    It is sure that everyone agrees that truth is the foundation of a good relationship. Tagore Rabindranath once said that: "Love is not a mere impulse, it must contain truth, which is law". This is because the truth decides the durability of a relationship. For example, when you discover your close friend or your partner cheat you, it is likely that you don't want to last the link anymore. Therefore, to make fine connections needs the sinceriry.

    Additionally, sincere persons usually get more good chances than those who are not. One of the most important things in life is the credit which was from the honesty. With the credit, you are easily received business contracts which give you more money. Conversely, telling lie makes you difficult to get the support from others. Do you remember the shepherd boy in La Fontaine (France, 1621-1695) fable? His calling for help is ignored because of his dishonesty. Thus, it is good to tell the truth in life.

    However, we should consider the suitability when telling the truth. In some cases, telling lie brings the usefulness. It is sure you know the story The last leaf of O' Henri (America). What would happen to Johnsy if Berman did not draw an artificial ivy leaf? Sweet and soft lies of Sue and Berman help Johnsy win the dead God. This indicates that we should clearly know when, where and how to tell the truth.

    The advantage of telling the truth is that in the long run your companion will believe you and trust you more as a result of you telling the truth. It also increases the boldness as the person faces the issue and overcomes it. There is more stress as to cover up a lie one needs to speak more lies. Speaking lies also lead to laziness as the person would think of getting excused from the challenge or task by telling a lie.
    with love
    pad
     
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  5. Angellic

    Angellic IL Hall of Fame

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    Wonderful post Bharadwaj sir...:thumbsup

    Generally, human psychology looks for trouble free moment or an easy option...so when a situation arises, generally we think about the consequences and depending upon the aftereffect we decide what is perfect to apt for...

    And also comfort of saying truth depends upon the type of relationship we have with the person or our loved ones we are confronting with...for eg. I won’t lie but I may hide the truth from my dad, for I’m bit scared of him...but i cant hide it from my mom or bro...Even if I try I won’t be able to…. because they have given me an easy or comfort zone to share my thoughts and here I wont look for the consequences as my truth/lie won’t effect me in any ways...

    I remember one such incident...I got very less mark in Marathi when I was in grade 6...I didn't tell my marks to my dad (here I hid the truth) but looking at my face my mom understood that something was wrong, when she asked me, without any fear I said the truth...

    I agree with kamalji sir...if truth can hurt then no harm hiding it...

     
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  6. BharadwajThiru

    BharadwajThiru Silver IL'ite

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    Dear Kamlaji,
    Thank you for taking the time to read my long post and being the first to provide FB.

    Great analogy. Yes, truth can be hurting!
     
  7. BharadwajThiru

    BharadwajThiru Silver IL'ite

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    Dear GG,

    Agree with you that truth should always be said. However when we finally find the right time to say it, the relevancy may not be there any more:)

    As kids, my friends and siblings used to go away on "adventurous" trips to the forest that lay beyond our house and only several days later confess to our parents when the risks they did not want us to take had no relevance any more:)

    Completely agree with your quote -

     
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  8. BharadwajThiru

    BharadwajThiru Silver IL'ite

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    Dear pad,
    Thank you for reading my long post and providing a lengthy fb:)
    I love it!

    I used to think that Trust and Respect were required for a great relationship. Over time though, I have started to wonder if LOVE overrides either of these. For example, regardless of how much your child lies to you your love for him or her never diminishes. You may be concerned but the relationship does not change.

    Can't argue with this one. Speaking the truth leads to trust that eventually pays rich dividends.

    Thank you for referencing the story - The Last Leaf of O'Henri - I have not come across it but will certainly find it and read it now!

    Hmm.. I will have to chew on that one.
     
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  9. BharadwajThiru

    BharadwajThiru Silver IL'ite

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    Dear Angellic

    This is precisely what I wanted to convey as well, that we need to provide other's the opportunity to speak the truth, w/o passing judgment or creating undesirable consequences.

    Thanks for your fb
     
  10. PushpavalliSrinivasan

    PushpavalliSrinivasan IL Hall of Fame

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    At times truth could be bitter, but without uttering lies it would be better to speak out the truth like swallowing a bitter pill to get rid of a disease.
    PS
     
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