The Complicated Culture of Lying

Gillian Mead

Ask yourself, what would happen if your mother were to ask you if she could borrow your phone? Would you give it to her? Now imagine yourself in the same situation with a stranger. Would you run with the honor system and hope that they will return your phone, or would you be smart and tell them that you don’t have it with you? It is all very complicated, and the subject of being truthful is very controversial among all people, no matter your personal background or where you come from. However, we can all agree on one thing:   lying is strongly situational. There is one rule that should be followed, though. Those who have a right to the truth should not be dismissed of the truth, while people who do not deserve the truth should not have access to it.The reasoning is that people who have good intentions will use the truth for good, and that people who are untrustworthy and have bad intentions will use the truth to harm others. 


The first reason to support the idea that only those who have a right to the truth should have access to it is that people with good intentions will use the truth for good. According to an article from RealtorMag, Brad Blanton, a psychotherapist believes in the concept of radical honesty. Under this way of living, one may not lie unless on very rare circumstances (Ballinger 1). Such occasions may be life or death situations, or other times when the health or well-being of you or another person is threatened. This shows the importance of telling the truth to people who mean to you. Also, Blanton explains that, “Delivering the truth to loved ones is easier and less stressful”( Ballinger 1). People who have good intentions aren’t trying to cause harm to others or themselves, and they are going to use the truth for good reasons. This concludes the fact that people who mean a lot to you, or have good intentions should not be denied of the truth. 


Another supporting point  for why people who have a right to the truth should not be dismissed of it is that those who are untrustworthy and have bad intent will use the truth for bad reasons. Take the story of Anne Frank, for example. Hiding Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis was acceptable, because her and her family’s lives depended on it ( Ballinger, 1). Lying is acceptable in this situation, because the Nazis had bad intent, and if they knew the truth, they would surely find Anne’s family and harm them. This proves that there are certain situations in which it is okay to not tell the truth, as long as you are protecting yourself or others. Also, imagine this scenario; Someone is trying to steal a person’s wallet. You, however, secretly know where it is hidden. They come up to you and ask where it is. In this situation, you should not tell them, because they will use the truth to harm someone else. This proves the fact that sometimes telling the truth can be worse than lying. 


Despite the evidence supporting this topic, many still believe in the idea that all lies will harm others. Immanuel Kant, a German Philosopher from the eighteenth century, explains that, “Truthfulness in statements which cannot be avoided is the formal duty of an individual to everyone, however great may be a disadvantage.”( Bok 1). What this way of thinking fails to take into account is that the disadvantages may be fatal. What about life or death situations? This argument is essentially explaining that no matter the situation, you should still tell the truth, even if you or someone else is in danger. If telling a lie means protecting another person in any way from someone or something that is untrustworthy, the lie is always worth it. Kant also explains that a lie always harms the liar himself. If, infact, someone was to lie to save a life, for example, wouldn’t telling a lie be the noble and heroic thing to do?


The first point to support the fact that only people who deserve the truth should have access to the truth was that those who have good intent will use the truth for good reasons. The second justification was that those who are untrustworthy will use the truth for bad. There is one thing to understand, though. Lying is very situational. Siding yourself with either always lying or never lying will no doubt have a bad outcome either way. This is why certain situations depend on who is lying, and the specific circumstances of the problem. Although many fall into this weird middle ground in lying, it is safe to stick to the fact that only those who are trustworthy should be exposed to the truth. Now, go back to the scenario from the beginning. Will you be honest despite the possibly terrible outcomes of the situation? Now that you have read this, how would you change your opinion? The whole world would be so much better if everyone made the right decision. Remember, it all depends on you.


Works Cited


Ballinger, Barbara. “Brad Blanton: Honestly, Tell the Truth.” RealtorMag.May 2010.<>

Bok, Sissela. “Rejecting All Lies: Immanuel Kant.”<