I’ve always been struck by the number of offhand lies that are told in an office setting. From telling people on the phone that someone is on the other line or in a meeting when that someone is neither, to forging a the boss’s signature, to faking sick days, business settings seem rife with deception. Of course, those lies are harmless, we tell ourselves. White lies. Nothing to worry about.
How often have you lied to a friend to get out of a social engagement you really didn’t want to attend, or to spare their feelings, or make them feel better about themselves?
(Then there are the lies we tell children . . . but that’s a whole can of worms that I, as someone who doesn’t have children, am going avoid opening.)
The point is, I wonder what the qualitative difference is between these lies–these harmless “white” lies–and the nearly infinite number of corporate lies that undergird our society; or the lies of a politician to his/her constituents. How is telling a white lie to a friend different than lying to a reporter? Sure, the results can be drastically different and when Bush or Obama lies, the scope of that lie plays out on a much vaster field than our daily deceptions. However, is the physiological process of lying different? Do our brains learn how to decieve comfortably (both others and ourselves) with these repeated white lies?
If we don’t value truth in our everyday lives, why expect it from others?
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