Pants on fire
When regard for truth has been broken down or even weakened, all things will remain doubtful. —St. Augustine, On LyingTonight, the Christian Ethics class at King of Peace will focus on lying. One form of lying even made the 10 Commandments, "Thou shalt not bear false witness." Yet the lie still has a long and storied history as each generation has struggled with those cases where the truth can harm. Then once the door is open to an acceptable lie, how many others slip through?
Think one should never, ever lie? What about an E.M.T. working on a car accident victim with some significant injuries who is also at risk from shock. The victim asks about a fellow passenger who the E.M.T. knows to be dead? Does the E.M.T. tell the truth, risking the health of the patient? Perhaps there are cases where a lie could do more good than harm. What are the acceptable boundaries? Are any lies white lies? Does that make them OK?
Liars usually weigh only the immediate harm to others from the lie against the benefits they want to achieve. The flaw in such an outlook is that it ignores or underestimates two additional kinds of harm—the harm that lying does to the liars themselves and the harm done to the general level of trust and social cooperation. Both are cumulative; both are hard to reverse. —Sissela Bok, Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life