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Just a Little Lie

Life in this world is a constant competition. Everybody competes for just about anything - for resources, for ranks, for attention, anything. The world's continually depleting resources, side by side with the ever growing human population, make the general struggle for advantage get more and more fierce.

And our values are changing. Apathy is becoming a virtue. Those who don't yield to their kindly nature are looked up to as being smart. Compassion is considered a weakness, so it is better suppressed. You have to appear formidable in order to be respected. And it's alright to bluff about it.

So we try our very best to hide our soft side. We put up an unfeeling, solid front. We cover our down side, overstate our achievements and play down our failures. Bluff a little, and bluff some more, in order to earn praises, and rise.

Here and there, everyday, we are faced with situations that call for us to bluff a bit or to tell a little lie. It's necessary, sometimes, in order to please or avoid hurting someone. Or, the supposedly innocuous pretenses will gain us some favor or approval. And, yes, sometimes it does get results.

But come to think of it: If you gain admiration for something that is not true, what do the praises mean to you? If you earn somebody's trust for a virtue or skill or knowledge that you actually don't possess, you will only stress yourself so much in trying to keep up with the raised expectation. You will be in constant fear that anytime your falsehood may be exposed.

We hear many street-smart people say, "If you don't have it, fake it!" The advice is tempting, especially if coming from those with something to show that the idea works for them. What may be hidden from our view, however, is the inner torment and anguish they go through. In all likelihood, the cost is many times over the benefit.

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As an inexperienced, young person, I bluffed and lied, quite a lot of times. Now I regret my folly. I've realized how much better a person I could have become - if only I put my effort on actually developing myself into the person I wanted to be and not simply faked being somebody I was not.

I know someone who turns down any opportunity for self-gain when he knows somebody else truly deserves it more. He is not someone of great affluence, but of great character; someone whose sense of honesty and fairness is amazing. He has a clear idea of what to stand for and lives it. I admire him so much that I try to emulate him.

Telling lies is something we've come to accept as a necessary part of living. Little scams - and the occasional big ones - are part of our personal and professional cultures. We feign loyalty and cheat on the people we love. We do personal errands at work and pretend to be busy with official duties.

"What my wife doesn't know won't hurt her," a philandering husband would say. "It's just a fling, anyway." In the same way, we think that cheating a few minutes of office time won't really hurt the company. We don't see anything wrong with petty dishonesties.

Telling a little lie is easy, and we often get away with it. But, with falsehoods, we will only create the environment for our own ruin. According to one Oriental philosophy, every lie we tell, no matter how little, creates a dissonance in the order of the universe; first shaking our personal worlds, and eventually the cosmos at large.

There's really no such thing as a harmless lie. Sooner or later, all the untruths we create will catch up with us. Immediately, every lie we tell eats up part of our self-esteem. Other people may not know we're lying. But we do, every single time.

We need to be always watchful of our own tendency to fib. And we must be careful, too, with people who bluff or tell lies, even if these seem petty and harmless, and don't concern us directly. If one can tell small lies, he can tell big lies. And - the danger is - his next sham might be on us.

Much of our present attitudes defy what our parents had told us-that we should always tell the truth, that we should always be honest. Has the old parental counsel lost its relevance in today's world? I don't think so.

In the long run, consistently upholding the truth will work in our - and everybody else's - best interest. We will have a healthy self-esteem and will be a good example to others. And, yet, the biggest benefit of all is - "the truth shall set us free."


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