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Telling the Truth

For the most part, I believe we should tell the truth. This means sharing all the knowledge we have of what is relevant to a question, problem or subject. We may not say it all at once. It may be a piecemeal conversation, but we should share what is relevant when we know what someone needs to know.

I think of lying as deliberately misleading someone by saying something contrary to what you know to be true. I’ve known people who denied doing something that I was there to witness and had a negative impact on me. Their denial was a kind of lying. However, I already knew the truth, so it was more straight up denial. However, it made me wonder if they had lied about other things they told me about how they acted in other situations.

Some people see withholding truth as the same as lying. I think it depends on the situation. When staying silent means people will have to deal with a new problem or that they can’t solve the one they are facing, then I see it as on par with lying. If it just means they might wonder about what happened but can go on with their lives without any extra difficulty, then it’s not lying.

There are times to keep things private. Sometimes, no matter if a person wants to know something, we have every right to say, “Butt out!” We don’t have to share everything with everyone. We may even take this opportunity to say that they enjoy privacy, too, so maybe they should respect yours, if it has to go that far. Privacy is a privilege we should be able to enjoy when we are not harming others.

In this series, I talk about the different sides of truth telling through a few scenarios, including planning a surprise, negotiating a deal, making a confession, learning and finally arguing. Each of these interactions can exemplify when truth telling is most critical and when privacy might also be useful instead of disclosure.

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