"Gradually I came to realize that people will more readily swallow lies than truth, as if the taste of lies was honey, appetizing: a habit."
Author: Martha Gellhorn
White lies, black lies, half truths, bald faced lies, fibs, fudging the numbers, burning the books, getting caught with your pants down. I'm not going to tell you what a lie is, there are plenty of resources out there that define different kinds of lies.
What I'm going to do is admit I've told some huge lies over the years and they have been of every type, shape, and size. And I am a hypocrit. Why? Because I have an extraordinarily high standard when it comes to honesty, a standard which I've only started to meet in my own life within the past few years.
There's a reason I'm sharing this with you.
For most of my life I considered myself a very honest person and for the most part I was. I said what I thought, meant, and felt with very little ambiguity. At the same time I mastered the half truth, this was my lie of choice. A half truth is, quite frankly, the most difficult form of dishonesty. It requires a strong memory, the ability to only say or write things that are "true" in some sense, and the skill to keep a story going that everyone, including oneself, buys in to. Last but not least someone who can do this well has to have a curious habit of rationalizing the gap between what's said and what's not said and supressing it when that hole's where a sense of ethics should be.
That said, your honor, I consider myself an expert witness.
Everybody lies. EVERYBODY. You, me, even animals lie. Chimpanzees, for instance, have been observed to behave in decietful ways to protect themselves, their loved ones, or their food. Even deer know how to feint to trick predators (doesn't work so well against cars, though).
Nobody is born a liar. What we are born with is a strong desire to experiment with the universe we've been thrust into. We start by looking everywhere and sucking on anything that comes into contact with our face and pretty soon we move to sucking on our fingers then picking things up to suck on and play with in our mouths. Then one day we have this mind blowing realization, there's this stuff that's "us" and this stuff that's the rest of the universe and we can interact with all that stuff to get things we want like attention and food.
As babies we're miniature scientists and everything's an experiment. Do we get what we want if we scream? If we're quiet? If we make cute faces? Oh, oh, I made a cute face and got some attention, that's good! Oh, there's a cookie on the table and I can just get it, oh, that was soooo good! Oh shit, mom caught me and she's yelling at me! What to do, what to do?! Last time I didn't say anything and that made it worse so this time I'm going to try the cute face and WOAH mom smiles at me, this is good, this is awesome! This cute thing really works for me.
And so as babies we learn that sometimes lying does pay. We lie and receive immediate gratification for it from something or someone outside of us. The more we recieve that positive reinforcement the more we're likely to lie and the more it becomes habit. Some of us lie very rarely, some of us lie a lot. Some of us lie to others, some of us lie to ourselves.
In any case, lying is the easiest way to karmically shoot yourself in the foot. And I'm not saying that if you lie to someone it'll cause someone to lie to you, not at all. The karmic price of lying is much more subtle than that. The price of lying is much more discomforting.
Say for instance you're a human being and you want friends you can trust and count on. But...you talk behind their backs. Are they going to trust you? What kinds of friends are going to put up with someone like that?
Say for instance you're a human being and you want co-workers who respect you. But...you gossip around the water cooler. Are they going to see you as a professional? Will it be your skills as an employee that help you succeed or your talent as a spin doctor?
Say for instance you're a human being and you want to experience true intimacy with another human being. But...you don't tell them you're actively seeing your x while at the same time spending less and less time around your partner. Do you think this creates an honest emotional bond? What kind of people are going to put up with someone like that?
Say for instance you're a human being and you want to be someone who lives a life of honesty, integrity, courage, honor, strength, and responsibility. But...you lie.
The biggest lie is to live the life that isn't true.