Monday, 1 June 2009

Blast From the Past Number Five.

Perhaps the cheats and liars in Parliament are getting to me. They are the reason I am reminded of the post I did a year ago. There are truths, half truths and downright lies. The post I have resurrected suggests sometimes, just sometimes a lie is justified (though not by the dishonest, moronic, greedy individuals who inhabit the corridors of power in Westminster.) What do you think?
Sunday 29th June 2008
Tell a Lie and Find the Truth Spanish Proverb
George was so pleased with his new hatchet he used it to cut down father's favourite cherry tree. Dad came across the fallen tree and he was not best pleased. He asked George who was responsible and he felt, as any child would that to lie was the best idea. Only George was a well brought up child and his answer is well documented. "I cannot tell a lie. I did cut it with my hatchet." Well done George, George Washington that is.
I too was, I reckon, a well brought up child. Influenced as a member of the Moravian Church, the one thing impressed on me was the difference between right and wrong. My religious convictions were never set in stone, so to speak, but I have never willingly lied, whatever the consequences. I find it difficult to comprehend how some lie so easily and so often. I was always taught as a child that Moravians are God fearing to the extent that they are exempt from having to swear on a Bible in a British court, though I have never seen this premise actually tested in a court of law. I do many bad things but lying is not one of them.
I passed down a road in the Peak District this weekend, at a place called Owler Bar. A road I vaguely recognised; then my connection to the place slowly dawned on me. Around forty years ago I travelled down this road in a minivan with three other people. A Sprite sports car passed us somewhat erratically, enough to ensure comment, not all favourable. Five minutes later and the sight that met our eyes was desperately unwelcome. The Sprite lay upside down on the road, wheels forlornly spinning, the soft top shredded, steam everywhere, the smell of petrol sinisterly threatening, the driver half in and half out of his pride and joy. Tragedy on a summer's afternoon.
We lifted the car to an upright position, for my companions, though young were fit and strong.
The driver, a young man in his twenties, though conscious, was seriously injured; obviously terminally so even to my inexperienced eyes. I could do little to help as we awaited professional help and Owler Bar is a lonely spot. I held his hand, feeling inadequate in the extreme. His words I had forgotten until this weekend. "I'm dying," he said, looking to me for reassurance.
I've never forgotten that young man or the experience of that afternoon, all those years ago.
Three weeks later I was subpoenaed to attend his inquest. I also bought another vehicle, a Mini Cooper, not my first choice, a sports car with a soft top. And I've never forgotten that young man's simple question. Would your answer have been my answer, I wonder.
Posted by Grumpy Old Ken at 29.6.08
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Nota Bene said...

Ouch...major dilema. I'd have lied...possibly out of ignorance, possibly out of hope upon hope, possibly out of lack of courage. These days I'd tell the truth...everyone deserves that.

The bike shed said...

There are lots of occasions when you might chose to lie without fear of wrongdoing. Indeed to tell the truth in circumstances might be the far greater wrong. For instance, would you lie to save the life of a Jewish person in Nazi Germany, especially if you knew that lie would definitely save their life? Such a lie is not morally important in relation to the consequences of telling the truth. In short, circumstances count - and at times have to weigh up relative moral values.

It's worth thinking too about the underlying reason why we generally regard lying as wrong - because it is wilful deceit with the intention of generating some sort of gain / advantage. In circumstances where the object and effect of lying is to alleviate pain and suffering, then we may reasonably have a different approach to it morally. In short, our intent is important too.

I could go, but you get the idea.
Lying may be generally frowned on, but not as an absolute prohibition.

Interesting post

ADDY said...

Lying for your own gain (as is happening in Parliament at the moment)is despicable, but I think a little white lie (so as not to offend or hurt someone) is acceptable. I guess you told a little white lie to that young man in the Sprite to keep his spirits up.

Daphne said...

I think you said "No, you're not dying, don't worry, help is on its way." That's what I would have said, just to make his last moments more bearable: and I think that was the right thing to say. There are some circumstances in which the truth isn't always helpful.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Apologies, have only just noticed I never replied. Didn't mean to be rude.

You are all correct, I lied. What would have been gained by instilling nothing but hopelessness and fear.

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