A jury consists of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer.
— Robert Frost
If you’ve never seen a Jim Carey movie (and this applies to the one percent of the population without taste for comedy), there are a number of his films that I could recommend for a “must see” list. And no, Mr. Popper’s Penguins is not one of them.
On the list, however, would be one of his older films, Liar, Liar. An instant classic with a simple but brilliant premise: What if a perpetual liar, a lawyer (is that repetitive?) is forced to tell the truth for an entire day?
But this got me thinking, what if I had to tell the truth for the whole day? I consider myself a pretty honest guy—at least my weight-scale isn’t adjusted lower than zero—but I assume there would still be certain instances that would become pretty uncomfortable if I were forced to tell the truth.
For instance, if it were the day my friend asked me how she did at her interpretive dance recital—the one I was forced to attend because of some misconstrue idea of societal reciprocity (she cheered for me at a poetry performance)—I probably would have had to tell her I’ve seen plastic bags dance in the wind with more comprehensible intention.
Or if it were the day that my friend asked me whether or not it bothered me that he didn’t read my blog, I imagine I would have had a few harsher words to convey. (I’ve reviewed a number of his English papers for him; he could have at least done me the courtesy of checking out my site).
Granted, it probably would have been better to give the truth in these situations (or more aptly, elegant contortions of my true opinions and feelings), but nonetheless it seems, even now in retrospect, that my lies didn’t hurt anyone. So if they didn’t, why shouldn’t we lie in more situations like these?
Of course there’s the slippery slope argument that telling little lies like these will lead to telling greater lies in the future, but I think the rational mind can decide when it is and isn’t acceptable to lie. Even Plato approved of lying in certain circumstances (though it should be noted that he gave this ability only to his near god Philsopher-Kings).
However, because most people aren’t rational—myself falling under the category of most, as do you—we should probably refrain from lying in as many situations as we can. Except of course when you comment on whether or not you liked this post.