Libraries are full of books on morality; pretty heavy stuff for the most part.  We are living in a world with rapidly dwindling morals.  There was a time when I tried my best to be immoral on occasion, and of course, I succeeded some of the time.  It was the “in” thing in my younger years to be a little rebellious.  Does anyone remember “If it feels good, do it”?  Yea, you either remember it or have heard of it.  Peer pressure did all it could to move us in that direction.  Although morals have been dwindling for way too long, I feel there is a re-emergence of morality in America today.  There are many reasons for that I suppose, but my guess is that the “If it feels good, do it” crowd, is starting to grow up.

I have been writing a lot about topics that I hope readers find interesting.  You don’t have to look into them very deeply to see that some are about basic morals.  This writing is about another basic moral issue, Lies.

A lie (also called prevarication, falsehood) is a type of deception in the form of an untruthful statement, especially with the intention to deceive others.  To lie is to state something with disregard to the truth with the intention that people will accept the statement as truth.  A liar is a person who is lying, who has previously lied, or who tends by nature to lie repeatedly—even when not necessary.

I am sure everyone has been lied to and I would bet a dollar to a donut hole that all of you have lied.  I will even go further.  I believe that nearly every person over the age of eighteen lies every day.  Now I am sure most everyone reading this thinks I have gone over the deep end with the “lies every day” statement, and perhaps I have.  But let’s take a look at “LIES” and see if I may be a bit closer to being right than you think.

The following is a list from Wikipedia of eleven types of common lies.  There are many more, but for this paper, we will look at some of these more common types.

Big Lie,   Bluffing,   Barefaced lie Butler lie Contextual lie,   Economy with the truth Emergency lie Exaggeration Fabrication Jocose lie Lie-to-children Lying by obsolete signage Lying by omission Lying in trade Lying through your teeth  Misleading/dissembling Noble lie Perjury Puffery The View From Nowhere,   White lie.

For most of us, telling a lie is not meant to harm anyone, although we may tell lies that in the end that do just that.  The most common lie that most of us tell and had told to us is, “Lies to Children”.  Just in case there may be a child reading this I will not get into the particulars of this type of lie; I am sure it is pretty well self explanatory.  I would like to share one lie that I have told all of my children at one time or another.  A question that comes from most children is “Why?”.  I am sure most parents can attest to that.  After so many “because whys” we give in and either get upset or we tell a little white lie to shut them up.  All of my children, at one time or another, has asked me; why did one of their siblings get to do something and they didn’t?  My answer I use often is, “because I love the sibling in question more than I do you”.  If you haven’t tried this answer, give it a try sometime.  The look on their face is almost always the same.  They want to keep arguing but they become pretty much speechless and give up. 

Probably all of us could look at the lies listed above and see at least one they have committed.  However, there is always someone that does not believe they ever lie, and if they have, they certainly do not feel that they lie every day.  That brings me to “my ace in the hole”.  I believe the most common time we tell a lie is when we lie to ourselves.  And, I believe most of us do so every day.  The most common of these “self lies” are “white lies” and “lies of omission”.

How many times have you told yourself that you don’t really care what anyone thinks?  Now think about it.  You don’t care what anyone thinks?  That is either a “self lie” or you may need to look and see if you are being selfish?  Which is worse, not caring what anyone else thinks or being selfish?  I think most of us would find we do care what people think about us, especially family and friends.   Have you ever consoled someone with a white lie in order to make them feel better?  Have you ever purchased an item and told yourself that you had to have it when you knew you really just wanted it?  This may come as a big surprise, but most men that I know have done that, me included.  Actually, I don’t think many wives will find that very surprising in the least.

I know some people that are just plain liars.  There are times they will lie when the truth would work just as well.  I think those type of people probably are very unsure of themselves or may even have a mental illness.  The kind of liars that I find the most perturbing however, are those that lie by omission.  

Lying by omission

One lies by omission when omitting an important fact, deliberately leaving another person with a misconception.  Lying by omission includes failures to correct pre-existing misconceptions.  This is also known as a continuing misrepresentation.  An example is when the seller of a car declares it has been serviced regularly but does not tell that a fault was reported at the last service.

Of the top ten most distrusted professions, car salesmen, rank very high; number four.  This is probably because, in my opinion, they lie by omission more than any other profession.  I realize that not all car salesmen are like that.  I am not saying it is the only profession that is that way; I just believe it is one of the worst.  It would be very easy to leave facts out of a car deal and to do so even accidentally, but I am not talking about doing so by accident.  I cannot tell you how many times I have been lied to by omission.   

If you are one of the “one in a billion” that never tells a lie; congratulations.  You really won’t have much of a use for this article.  However, if you are like most of us that have lied, does it bother you to lie, or is it just a part of your everyday way of life?  I believe that unless you have a good reason to lie or if telling lies is a mental illness that you battle, you do not like being a liar.  So, what does one do to keep oneself from being that kind of person?  First you must think about yourself and determine whether or not you lie often.  More importantly, if you do lie often, is that a problem for you?  If so, are you at all remorseful?  

There are many issues in the world today that are pulling us toward the dark side, not just lies.  The big question remains, are you remorseful?  If you find that telling lies or doing other “bad things” is no big deal, then there is probably nothing you will do to change yourself.  However, I do believe that most people do want to improve. 

I am Catholic.  One tool that Catholics have that helps them through problems is the sacrament of confession.  I do not enjoy confessing my sins or discussing my problems with a priest.  In fact, I don’t like talking about my problems to anyone.  However, confession does help when I do use it.  You may want to try it; you do not have to be Catholic to use the tool of confession.  There are also other ways to battle these problems.  Do you have a friend you can talk to?  Perhaps you can visit with a sibling or even your wife or husband.  Have you considered the power of prayer?  As stated earlier, lies can lead to problems, not only for those that tell them, but for those that are the recipient of the lie. 

As I said at the beginning, I believe there is a big change coming in America’s morality.  Be honest with yourself.  Are you part of that awakening?  If not, do you want to be part of that awakening?  I know that I do.  It is time for everyone to not only change how they look at what they are doing to help, it is time to convince others that it is time to get on board.  Be a part of re-making The United States into the moral leader that our country was meant to be.  The time is now.

Pete Thomas.

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If you cannot reach me by clicking on the "COMMENTS" link, please email me at pjthomas@ucom.net with "LIES" in the subject line.

Jane Wehkamp Arthurs.

Hi Pete - WOW - another great article - i certainly made an examination of my conscience during and after reading your article - and i am guilty too. Great food for thought for my soul. Thanks

Leanne Lacy. 

Well, Pete Thomas, you really made me dig deep on your PU article, today. I think you're right about the biggest lies are to ourselves. I like your positive attitude about the world starting to come full circle, and trying to be a moral society, once again. I hope you're correct, but I am a bit skeptical. While attending college again, just 5 years ago, I was awakened to ethics and morals being worse than I even imagined. That is the reason ethics class is now required, and while attending college in my 20's, I don't even know if it existed then? You keep the faith, and I will try, also. Thanks for sharing, at least you are moving in the right direction, by sharing these self-examining articles.

Jeffro Borland. 

I agree wholeheartedly that we all lie, and that those who claim they don’t are liars or self delusional. I think we have to lie in order to move through society without as much pain or hindrance. For instance, when someone comes up to me and asks: “How are you doing? I haven’t seen you forever!”

Well, first off, they are lying because forever is indeed a long time, but the term is being used to exaggerate the length of time it actually has been, rather than an actual claim that is has been, indeed, forever. My smart alack stock answer is: “Finer than frog fur!” Which is mighty fine indeed, I’m hear to tell you. Once again, an exaggeration, plus it masks the truth – I might feel like crap, or maybe something bad has happened to me and I’m really quite upset – so one, I don’t feel like talking about it, and two, I feel like it just might not be any of your business. We tend to shy away from asking people who really tell us the truth in that instance because it’s TMI (too much information). We really don’t want to hear about that person’s continuous problems, aches, or relationship troubles each and every time we encounter them. In fact, we tend to avoid such people because they irritate us, and we all wish they’d just lie once in a while and say they’re ok!
So, it’s all a matter of degree – where do you draw the line on the ethics of lying? I think most of us lean towards the ethical use of the white lie, but then there are the habitual liars. People really do self justify whatever course of actions they take in order for them to believe they are doing the right thing. I’m convinced there is something different in the severe liar’s wiring – first, they think we ALL lie ALL the time, so they justify their lack of truth “because everyone else does it.” They’ll be damned if they’re gonna be left out. Technically, they are right because we all survive on white lies, but they also have a higher sense of their ability to convince the rest of us – they feel they are superior and we ought to believe what they say because of this superiority of theirs. Thus, when called upon their lies, they are upset that you have called their character in question. How dare you, you inferior being? I also think there are two extremes of this particular type of liar – on one end is someone who acts more or less by instinct – they’ve learned by experience and it comes naturally to them. It’s more of a gut reaction than a calculated one. Then on the other extreme are those who actually plan all of this out in their heads, consciously building their image of how things should be perceived by the rest of us. A lot of these types are also control freaks and exhibit other aberrant behavior. To wit: someone who abuses pets generally has no problem extending that abuse to humans as well. Not that each and every case is that way, but there certainly is a trend.
About the only way one can find out the measure of a being is by personal interaction with them. Often, we find that hearing someone has a bad reputation for lying may in fact be rather honest towards ourselves; conversely, someone with a sterling history with others might lie like a blanket to us. Most of the time the reputation is well deserved, but it does do to be careful in our interactions with someone new.
So, it is a very complicated social dance that depends on the interpretations of many in order to work, and the group consensus is the arbitrator of what is acceptable and not. We all make the decision individually what WE find livable, but the aggregate decides how society behaves towards us. And Pete – I hope you are right in that the tide seems to be turning towards a more moral society. I see where you get the inspiration for that idea – that people ARE getting tired of an amoral society and are fighting back, but I certainly see no relief from that concept, particularly in areas such as the Occupy Wall Streeters who apparently want it all and want it now regardless of cost, which to my mind is theft and immoral. They, however, have convinced themselves that no matter how hard you work, the fruits of your labor should be limited and they should have a rather large portion of it without any contribution to the efforts you made. It’s not just them – they do have a point when it comes to the Wall Street and bank’s proclivity to make short term profits from practices hurtful to the economy long term, and not actually creating anything of value for the long term. I do not see any of this changing, unfortunately. I hope you are right and this will all correct itself, but I certainly have my doubts.