I wonder if white lying has become epidemic in our society.
I’m not talking about outright sinful lying here. I’m not talking about sociopathic liars. I’m talking about regular, good old, hard-working Americans, functioning as Christians or at least in homes founded on Christian principles handed down from previous generations, who tell little white lies to make everyday realities easier for themselves and for those around them.
Bear with me because this all ties together eventually: I’ve been hearing a lot of political talk lately about the “snowflake” generation. According to Wikipedia, “Snowflake Generation” is a term referring to the young adults of the 2010s, who are perceived as more prone to taking offense and as less resilient than previous generations. (Wikipedia warns that the “snowflake” term may be derogatory; I assume that the warning is for the benefit of readers of the Snowflake Generation. Grin.) The Snowflakes love an academic setting and are champions of “safe spaces” (where the gay/lesbian/transgender/yawn community can feel comfortable sharing openly) as well as the authenticity of “trauma trigger” (meaning an experience can cause an individual to recall a previous and traumatic memory). Snowflakes, Wikipedia claims, ascribe to parenting methods that focus on boosting self-esteem.
Well, shoot. I might have some Snowflake tendencies myself.
But the point is, America, that we’ve got ourselves in a real tangle. Don’t we? Admit it! We did it to ourselves. I submit that the Snowflakes didn’t turn out to be snowflakes by accident. I think members of the Snowflake Generation were created, nurtured, and enabled by parents and grandparents who’ve been so preoccupied with things being easy for themselves and for their kids here in the good ol’ USA that they forgot the value of telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Could it all start with something as simple as the little white lie? Oh, I know why people tell white lies. White lies are convenient. They have (seemingly) no side effects. When you tell a white lie, you save yourself from giving the entirely truthful, long and probably painfully drawn-out explanation. You also protect yourself from telling a whole truth that might not be well-received and might anger the recipient.
(For instance: the ol’ “You’re right, that outfit does make you look fat” — obviously not socially acceptable. The ol’ “Actually, honey, in real life there is no real stork that brings babies to mommies and daddies” — certainly not the short answer.)
So we Americans have become really handy at telling white lies instead of the truth. White lies are easy. They’re fast. And perhaps they’ve resulted in an entire generation that can’t cope with real life. I wonder if white lies have become a habit that is resulting in the slow degradation of the integrity of our society?
(Because: people can tell when you’re lying. Even if the message in the lie itself makes the recipient “feel” “good,” the recipient still knows, deep inside, that it’s a lie. Kids, too, can tell when they’re being lied to; if not immediately, they’ll be able to sniff out all those lies they’re filing away in their little brains within a few years. And then, I would bet, they’ll start to manifest the white lying habit themselves.)
(So too, as Snowflakes tend to do, the kids’ll melt down when somewhere down the trail they run into a hard reality and humans unwilling to cave in to the needs of the Snowflake Generation.)
Wouldn’t life be easier if we all just started saying what needed to be said? The truth, whether good or bad? If those of us who long to hear truth didn’t have to wander around year after year after year wondering what folks were thinking and wishing they would just come out with it?
Of course, if we lived in a new world where only truth was spoken, we’d all have to buck up and get used to hearing it. Oh, my shirt is hideous? I’m glad someone told me. Oh, I embarrassed the family when I did that? I agree, it’s best I know. Oh, you always wanted to tell me but never got around to it? Well, thank you for saying so.
Instead, though, our world seems to be filled with two kinds of people: those who never say important things their loved ones long to hear… and those who say so much that all their words lose meaning.
You know, on the topic of honesty, I’m not saying I have a sterling character myself. I’ve definitely tried to weasel my way through a few things over the years. But I know this much: there’s something in me that won’t hardly let me tell a lie. Sure, I’ve tried, but if you know me you can see right through me. When I tell a fib, a flaming redness grows from my feet to my cheeks and I’m sure I wear an obviously stricken look on my face. Because of my inability to lie cleanly, I’ve always told my little kids the truth, in the most age-appropriate way I can think of at the time.
There are Americans, maybe even some of my relatives, who would conjecture that my children are disadvantaged because I (intentionally or unintentionally) have omitted some beloved American childhood lies from their upbringing. Will my kids be scarred because I’ve consistently told them the truth from the start? Because I’ve made no bones about Santa (read: Do you do Santa?)? Because I’ve consistently lacked the energy to make a big deal out of the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy?
Only time will tell. Probably I am going to screw up my kids in some way; seems like most parents do in this ol’ fallen world of ours. Who knows what sorts of quirks and weaknesses future generations, labeled with yet-unkown names, will suffer from? But I rest in this: they won’t be screwed up because I told them too many white lies.
The Bible says in Proverbs 12:22: “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.”
But the Bible also says, in Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Darn Bible. Always reminding me, just as soon as I think I’m less of a sinner than all the other sinners, just as soon as I pat myself on the back because I am glory, glory, hallelujah truthful and honest and good and pure… that I am in actuality no better than anyone else. Yes, I may be honest. But I also struggle with being critical and hurtful in my honesty.
Looks like we both have something to work on. Can we be honest about that much at least?
© Tami Blake