I like to think of myself as an honest person. I was brought up to know that cheating and lying were bad and this is what I teach my children but the truth is, I lie all the time.
In my family as a child, as in my family now, there was a special place for white lies. Those not-honest-but-not-quite-a-lie things we say. In explaining the concept of white lies to my kids I’ve gone with the definition of, ‘…they’re lies we tell so we don’t hurt someone else…’, but on closer inspection, that’s a pretty dodgy definition. After all, a cheating spouse could make the same claim about their lies (I didn’t tell you I was having it off with the butcher, because I didn’t want to hurt you), but that’s definitely not a white lie.
Unfortunately though, when you think about it, a white lie is often as self-serving as any other lie. They’re the lies we tell to avoid confrontation or guilt. We lie to our friend about her clothes and say it’s to spare her feelings, but in reality it’s to avoid a tricky conversation. We lie to acquaintances and say we’re busy, when really we’re not interested in spending time with them. We lie to ourselves.
More and more, I see white lies like strands of spider’s silk. It seems light and insubstantial but it’s sticky and difficult to rid yourself of and when it clumps together it becomes dusty and unsightly. And you know what they say, what a tangled web we weave, when we practise to my deceive.
On the other hand, how would we get through the day without a few white lies? Would it be an endless wave of conflict and confrontation or would we be freed by our honesty? What do you think?