I suppose if we randomly stopped people in the street and asked if they were an honest person, the vast majority of answers would be in the affirmative. And if we applied a generous and flexible definition to the word “honest”, I suspect people might actually be considered honest about their self declared honesty. But in truth, in all the animal kingdom we humans are the most dishonest and deceitful, particularly with ourselves.
Therefore it stands to reason we would lie about our dishonesty, to each other and especially to ourselves. One simply cannot maintain lies when they stand in the face of contrary and irrefutable truth unless an individual and cooperative self deception is employed. In effect we are all liars, of this there is little doubt. The only real question is to what degree. This assessment may be harsh, but it is not fundamentally wrong.
This point was driven home to me several decades ago when my then very young son was asking rather uncomfortable questions about lying, particularly when it was acceptable to do so and when it was not. Of course, at that age there is no acceptable lie simply because a five year old has not yet learned how and when to lie…at least in a sociably acceptable manner.
And therein lies the rub. One simply cannot avoid (though we most certainly can deny) our own hypocrisy when we sternly warn our children not to lie while our own personal cup runneth over. Of course, my lies aren’t really lies since I’m basically an honest person. See how that works?
When speaking about lies and lying, we utilize at least a hundred different modifiers and qualifiers to mitigate or dismiss the intent and intensity of our lies.
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