Perils of lying

Truthfulness is a great and noble trait and virtue, and will be recognized and duly rewarded sooner or later. In fact, all great spiritualists, philosophers and thinkers say that this is one of the greatest qualities a person can have and it can be compared to traits like not harming others, not cheating, not stealing, etc.

Perhaps the greatest people in the world are those who have advocated speaking the truth at all junctures, like, for example, Harishchandra. The `Father of the Indian Nation’, Mahatma Gandhi, placed truth in such a high priority that he titled his autobiography `The Story of My Experiments with Truth’. My school house motto is also linked to truth, as it says `Truth Conquers All’ – and indeed it does!

A truthful person has a lot going for him/her as the person can be counted on in a crisis, is trustworthy, reliable and can be believed at any point in time. Employers and CEOs in most companies like to recruit honest and upright candidates as then they can trust them with important confidential company information without any qualms that this will leak to a rival company. Truthful people can be banked upon without any reservations of misgivings. Their minds are usually simple, clean, straightforward and devoid of viciousness, cunningness and guile.

However, having said that telling truth is the ultimate virtue, one does come across people for whom habitual lying is second nature. Lies flow freely and glibly without guilt or remorse from seasoned tongues. These people have no hesitation in articulating brazenly and shamelessly the most dreadful and nasty fibs about those around them. Such people should be tackled early enough and weaned away from this deleterious habit, which can be very debilitating and harmful in the long run. One should just recall the well known story of the `Boy who cried Wolf’ to remind one’s self that it is prudent to refrain from lying.

From the `Boy who cried Wolf’ story, as old as the hills, one can infer how important it is to make people willing to trust you. If one tells one lie and gets away with it, one may embark on the second lie and so on. This small experiment devised by me could help. One should take a huge transparent drum of water and every time one lies, either purposely or unintentionally, one should remove one cup of water from the drum. As everyone is aware, water is an essential and indispensable resource and one cannot afford to lose even a drop leave alone a whole cup. So, when one sees what loss one is accruing due to lies, one may intuitively stop lying.

Interestingly, there are two types of lies which are not harmful or vicious, but which should nevertheless be curtailed and eschewed. First, is exaggeration where one wants to impress others by padding the truth with false details and embellishments. People can usually see through these exaggerations and therefore it is better for one to adhere to the basic truth.

The other type of harmless lie is the `white lie’. Is the telling of `white lies’ O.K.? Surprisingly, experts say that even here one should refrain from telling `white lies’ for this too could snowball into a habit. One should break free from the vicious circle of lying for the chief advantage of ALWAYS telling the truth is that one doesn’t have to always remember what one has said! So, on this note, I wish you all happy truth telling and farewell lies!

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