I had a theory. Had.
I had a theory that it was okay to lie. I believed in white lies: the sort that you tell to “make life easier for everyone” (but really I told them, I realize, because it would be easier for myself). My theory had it that if we were to strive continuously to maximize happiness for ourselves and for those around us and if telling lies sometimes did the trick, then telling lies was okay. On some days, to prevent a conflict or to prevent unnecessary emotionally charged conversations lies would roll of my tongue. “It’s better for everyone,” I would justify. But nowadays, I am starting to think otherwise. I am starting to tell myself the truth.
In my recent read The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, under the section “VI: How to live your life”, he illustrates how the truth may set us free literally. He tells the story of how he had been pulled over while speeding on an expressway by a police officer once. In that time, it was telling the truth of his circumstance and his intentions that had set him free (literally), much to his surprise. Underlying this story, I concluded that his intentions were to teach the lesson of having faith in the consequences when you tell the truth. The truth may set us free in more ways than one – maybe both physically and mentally (from the turmoil that keeping a secret may cause). One big stumbling block to telling the truth when I don’t is the idea that the consequences of lying would be far more desirable than that of doing otherwise. Often, the disparity in consequences is exaggerated and often, unnecessarily so. It’s similar to the exaggerated negative consequences we imagine before helping a stranger- redundant, irrational and usually, inaccurate.
I am beginning to think that surrounding myself with as much truth as possible might surprise me and I would like to try. This reminds me a little of the Truman Show – where Jim Carrey plays a man living a lie from birth. The town in which he lives was constructed from scratch by movie directors and script writers, his ‘neighbours’ all actors and his job merely a role he was unknowingly assigned by the production crew. He thought he was living a life of his own but everyone else was acting. In short, the movie was about a man who lived a lie. I recall the devastation he experienced in learning that none of what he had known to be his life was true. I never want to realize that I had been living a lie that I had created for myself and I can only start by being truthful to myself and to others as far as possible. Perhaps, the truth will set me free.
At this point, I want to acknowledge the difficulty in telling black from white in a world that is very much grey. The line between truth and lie is not always clear, and it is often simpler to mix a little more lie than truth. It is in my hopes that I will abandon “a grey world” and “white lies” as shields in my defense against having to fight for truth. We already live in a world where these excuses have been abused time and again so we should at least be truthful in our own capacity. May the intentions be to earn the trust of others by being a person that stands for more truth than lie, every time.
Perhaps, the truth will set us free.