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I was in an extended conversation about truth, the BIG TRUTH, lies, social lies, silent lies, and I came out of it with some change of opinion. The thing that became most apparent to me was that any form of lying is always internal to a conscious person. When a lie is out in public it’s no good if it isn’t a good lie. A good lie is a bad lie because it is effective; it’s effective because it is believed to be true. A lie is a conscious act to gain some kind of benefit. Sometimes the benefit is thought to be for protecting another person and not for oneself. Such things as marital infidelity that is known about a friend’s relationship. The silent lie is intended to avoid hurting the feelings of the friend. Although nothing is said it is a straight-out lie because the silence is a conscious distortion of the truth intended for the liar’s personal benefit. In the case of this kind of silent lie, not hurting the friend’s feelings is still an intentional lie for one’s personal benefit because it avoids being involved in an emotionally upsetting situation.

I discovered that some people preferred to live in a world of illusion, to live in a world where everything feels good even if it includes some or even many social lies. They claim it feels better. They claim no one knows what truth is, and it doesn’t matter because whatever the truth is, it changes all the time and is totally dependent on the point of view, and since it is so flexible there isn’t any reason to be particularly careful with the truth. To them lying is okay, even a good thing, because it makes it easier to live with other people.

There was some discussion of the big TRUTHs but those appeared to be totally personal concerns about death and the fact that we, as living beings, either vanish into the cosmos or are to be elevated into some other place, but a place where we are still conscious of ourselves as unique entities. There was some stated belief that one’s personal I, their identity, would exist forever. The people who held that made-up belief seemed to be more worried about losing their identity than those who said they were comfortable to return back to the universe from which they came and simply vanish as an identity.

I argued, perhaps too vehemently, that an individual must never, never, never lie. A lie is an intentionally created distortion of the liar’s personal reality that sometimes is directed outward, but with practice is more often directed toward their own fears. A lie is the kind of reactive karma that forms into a habit and when the liar tells lies unknown even to themselves they corrode their relationship with reality. As the lies become more and more embedded in their conception of reality they automatically lose touch with real relationships between things and people, and they must, therefore, have a growing distortion of how to relate effectively with their entire world. It may not be apparent to themselves and others right away, but the growing distortion of reality, in a short-term attempt to avoid pain, must eventually bring them to things not working well and thus eventually to live in a world of personally felt pain.

It seems obvious that to see objective facts as clearly as possible and then to present those facts to oneself and to others as clearly as possible will function best in the long run. In the short run, it may be necessary to speak in such a way as to assure the others and oneself that what they are discussing is subject to revision as additional facts come into view. But, at every instant they are stating the truth as best they can.

I became rather vocal that the story “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” is an evil thing to tell a child who is honestly asking about the truthfulness of that myth. Is it true or is it just a story? The original report is of a girl sincerely asking and being lied to by her parents, then her teachers and finally the local newspaper. It is done by these adults for their personal merriment at seeing the girl’s confusion and wonderment at such a fantastic thing being reality. A hundred years later it is still routinely told at Christmas and it makes it an okay thing to lie to children about Santa Claus. I insist that when anyone, but especially a child, asks for the truth, give it to them as clearly and honestly as possible. To lie to a child is to distort their possibility of growing up to be a fully functioning person.

Never lie! Never lie to another person. Never ever lie to a child. Never ever lie to yourself. And always keep your promises to yourself.