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February 22, 2013


Mario in DC

Which is more important, being honest, or being kind? If the *only* thing you achieve by telling the truth is hurting someone else, then, so be it -- stick as close to the truth as you can, but ... lie. Always go for the lesser harm. Meanwhile, remember that so much can be achieved by tactfulness and very careful phrasing. Rather than saying: "Yes, those jeans make you look fat!", try: "Actually, the jeans I *really* think suit you are the ones you wore last week at that party ... " (But, really, who but the blind cannot figure such a thing out by taking a good look in the mirror?)

And, yes, people have the right to keep their secrets to themselves -- unless hidden secrets are more harmful than revealed ones.

Complete honesty may be laudable in principle, but in practice ... not always, not in a civilized society. It's really much like what Elwood P. Dowd once said: "Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, 'In this world, Elwood, you must be' - she always called me Elwood - 'In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.' Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me."

Elaine Viets

Some white lies are necessary. My dad worked for the electric company, and when they called after a storm, he had to report to work. He got overtime, but often he was too tired to work 10 or 12 hours. This was before caller ID. If the phone rang late on a stormy night, my mother would ask, "Are you home?" and Dad would say yes or no. One time I answered first. It was Union Electric and I bellowed, "Dad, are you home?"
I learned to lie a lot better after that.


Mario, I agree 100%! I'd forgotten the Elwood P. Dowd quote, so thanks for reminding me.


Funny, Elaine. Childhood does teach us we can be too honest.

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