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Always the best policy?

January 3, 2011

Is honesty always the best policy?  From the off I must say that I claim no moral authority and that I do not know the answer to that question.

It is, however, a question I have been pondering for a while now.  The answer, to my mind, is that honesty is often the best policy.  Which, even as I write, looks like a cop-out.  In my defence, life is a series of cop-outs.  Well, mine is anyway.  Some, including me, call them compromises, because that sounds better.

So, when is dishonesty the best policy?  On the rare occasion when it is for the benefit of the person being lied to is my answer.  An example would be telling someone who is badly injured that you are a doctor and they will be fine, even though you’re not and they probably won’t be.  This lie is told purely for the benefit of the person lied to.  It may not work, but that’s its purpose and purpose is the thing.

When the lie, if it were to be told, is for the benefit of anyone but the person lied to then do the right thing.  Tell the truth.  It will often be painful and messy, but in the long term there is far more pain in a lie.  Not to mention the fact that lies are difficult.  They take a lot of brain power to create and maintain, brain power you could be using to live your life.

Of course, the trick is working out what actually benefits someone, but that’s for another day and someone a bit more switched on than I am.  Ultimately, whatever I do in life I try to make sure that I treat other people as people, not as means to my ends.  I don’t always succeed, not by a long way, but that too is life.  I am getting better at it I think.

I didn’t write this blog to preach to anyone or to claim some big revelation.  I’m just trying to be honest.

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