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Book Review: “Lying” by Sam Harris

Lying

I’m starting 2014 lie-free.  That is, I’m committed to avoiding unnecessary stress created by the utterance of lies big and small.  That includes abstaining from telling seemingly harmless “white” lies.

This is a short (under 100 pages) and simple read appropriate for everyone, because most of us are plagued with the decision to lie or tell the truth in uncomfortable situations when they arise.

Do I tell my wife that I’ve cheated on her?  What do I say when my child asks me if Santa Claus is real?  Do I tell my mother who suffers from dementia that her husband died 15 years ago?  Do I answer truthfully when my overweight girl friend ask me if she looks fat in that dress?  Do I tell psychopaths the truth?  These are just a few of the questions Mr. Harris answers.

Lying has given me fresh insight into matters that I grapple with currently. It has reinforced a lot of what I already knew, which has helped strengthen and solidify my beliefs.  That, in turn, has made it easier for my actions to reflect my true values.  My internal conflict is slowly but surely extinguishing.  Telling the truth, hopefully with tact, is a crucial part of my happiness and personal well-being. Rarely is it prudent to lie.  Mr. Harris elaborates on this regarding abnormal situations.  My beliefs and the overall message of the book are in sync:  Lying, in general, has a greater chance of causing more harm than good.  Being honest creates healthier relationships with others by establishing and maintaining trust.  Sounds easy, right?  But how many of us can say that we are honest all the time?

Mr. Harris leaves us with these three questions to consider:

How would your relationships change if you resolved never to lie again?

What truths about yourself might suddenly come into view?

What kind of person would you become?