There’s only one read this week but it’s a fairly long essay that’s been made into a short book. The essay/book is titled Lying and, as the name implies, it explores the morality of being dishonest. At first glance, it seems like a straight forward subject matter. We’ve been taught by our parents and teachers that it’s wrong to lie and deceive others knowingly. But what about white lies that spare the other person’s feelings? Or lies told to prevent heartaches and headaches?
Sam Harris suggests that it’s better to be brutally honest than to tell those seemingly small white lies. He argues that honesty might be what the other person needs. To support his point, he offers a vignette about his friend that got the motivation needed to hit the gym because of an honest answer about his weight.
I thought of my time working with children after reading this essay. I would sometimes gloss over a half correct answer because I didn’t want the student to be frustrated. The solution was almost right, so I should give the kid some credit right? But by doing this, I set a lower standard for the child. I also led the student to believe that her work is correct, allowing her to continue solving those problems incorrectly. I should have been truthful with the students and kept my standards high.
I also wondered about how honest I am day to day. I occasionally tell a white lie to prevent hurt feelings or avoid awkward situations. However, now I might just be painfully honest and deal with the moment at hand instead of finding an easy way out.
What I Read:
Lying | Sam Harris - The link sends you to Sam Harris’ website with a 6 minute excerpt of the book and links to buy. I also found a PDF of the essay through google search, here is the link to it.