How truthful are you? Have you been brought up by your parents to tell the truth all the time? Do you tell your children to always tell the truth?
If so then you are rebelling against nature. Children learn to lie from a very young age. 90% of children are liars by the time they are four years old. It’s human nature to lie.
Why? Well because it helps create social cohesion for one thing. We probably lie the most to the ones we love. Mainly because we don’t want to hurt their feelings by telling the real truth that their body shape isn’t perfect, or their latest hair style looks a mess, or their bum does look big in that dress. We lie to our friends for similar reasons though more about the fact that we don’t want to tell them that their jokes are absolutely awful.
Another reason for lying is to keep ourselves one up on the competition and protect ourselves from enemies. When food was scarce we would have hid our food and lied about having it. When in a fight with our enemies why would lie and deceive to make our side look more powerful. We lie when going for a job interview to gloss over our failings.
Even plants lie to protect themselves. Some orchids pretend to be lady wasps.
So should we fight against our nature to lie the same way we fight against our nature to be racist, sexist, xenophobic, judgemental?
One organisation thinks we should. They are called the Radical Honesty Movement, a movement set up by Brad Blanton, a psychotherapist. The say that adults should not be hypocritical and should follow the advice they give children and always tell the truth. Basically think of Jim Carey in Liar Liar! They say you should tell your boss about your secret plans to take over the company. Confess to your wife that you have fantasies about her sister.
Some of the reasons for putting forward this idea is that lying uses more energy, wastes time, and requires extra work. If you only told the truth all the time then we wouldn’t need inquiries, court cases would become a mere procedural task without juries, wars would become a thing of the past. You get the idea.
But bear in mind that Bad Blanton doesn’t follow his own advice. Or rather he qualifies it by saying that you should always tell the truth in personal relationships. When it comes to the IRS (HMRC in our case) or other government official knocking at the door, he wouldn’t hesitate to lie.
Is he deluded in thinking that humans can be truthful a 100% in personal relationships or is it something we should aim for?