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Do Little, White Lies Keep You Out Of Heaven?

Aug 17, 2007
You don't look fat, this tastes good, I love it - these are little, white lies. Supposedly we tell them to spare others' feelings. Actually, it's our feelings we want to spare. We want to spare ourselves the hurt of hurting someone else. Truth can hurt - relationships.

Unfortunately, stretching the truth also qualifies as a white lie. A friend invites you to a lecture and you say you can't go because cleaning your house before your mother-in-law arrives will take all day. It doesn't and your friend finds out. You can stretch the truth only so far before it painfully snaps back.

Then there's creative speak - another white lie. When President Clinton said he didn't have sex with that girl, the truth of that statement depended on one's definition of sex.

Politicians are pros at creative speak, as well as double speak. They take stands on both sides of an issue in order not to lose votes, but often end up without a leg to stand on.

Your husband asks if you used his car. You say yes, but you don't tell him about the little, tiny dent. It's not the whole truth. It's another white lie.

Supposedly pictures don't lie. Politicians kissing babies, everyone smiling in a reunion picture, air brushing - pictures lie.

White lies come in all shapes and sizes. For me one was shaped like a lima bean. When I was newly married and living in London, I often defrosted lima beans for dinner, in spite of my not liking them. One night my husband remarked he hadn't known how much I liked lima beans. Me? I thought you liked them!

When your child's teacher calls and asks you to chaperone another class trip, is saying you're busy a white lie? After all, even when we're doing nothing, we're busy breathing.

And what parent wouldn't tell her child that his or her hand-imprint paperweight was the best one? Positive reinforcement or little, white lie?

We tell white lies to ourselves too. You get on the scale and tell yourself the five extra pounds is water or you look in the department store mirror and blame the way you look on poor lighting. Been there. Done that.

If you overslept, spilled coffee on your suit, got to work late and left important papers at home, is saying good morning to your boss a little, white lie or job security?
About the Author
KNIGHT PIERCE HIRST takes humorous looks at life.
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http://knightwatch.typepad.com
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