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White Lie: Is It Possible to Justify Lies? Essay

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Updated: Feb 20th, 2019

Is it possible to imagine our everyday life without lies? Can people stop telling lies and be able to tell only the truth like it happened with the characters of the movie The Invention of Lying? In fact, such reality when people is hard to imagine because the vast majority of modern people are so absorbed in lying, and the idea that white lies may save the world and deprive many people of suffering and disappointments seems to the only rational one.

The cases on lying and liars’ destinies may be observed in many literary works. Such authors like Shakespeare, Wilde, or Crawford introduced captivating and educative stories which show how one or several lies both white and not may influence current state of affairs and even human lives.

When I observe the events in different literary works, I believe that sometimes white lies are necessary, but unfortunately, people cannot be sure about proper interpretation of situation and the decision to lie or not to lie, this is why it is impossible to interpret while lies as something pure justified or unacceptable, and people have to be very careful both with the truth and lies, especially white lies.

When people lie, they think that they improve the situation, decrease the level of suffering and disappointments, or just get a chance to avoid punishment or discontent. They lie in order to be saved, to be understood, and to be supported. It is hard to comprehend why people lie and what may happen if these lies do not happen. In fact, the style of life where all people tell the truth only (The Invention of Lying) is also hard to imagine because constant truth deprive the world of some kind of mystery, intrigue, and desire.

This is why it is useless to believe that absence of lies may lead to positive outcomes because such reality may have its own disadvantages. I think it is better to take some neutral position and lie only in case to please a person or save him/her against negative outcomes. In this case, when lie is for safe, it may be justified. However, more about justification of lies have to be evaluated by means of examples.

Some people use the term “white lie” as something that may be justified and comprehended by the others. As for me, I believe that some cases just require such while lies in order not to worsen the situation. However, it is still very important to define what may be regarded as white lies and what can never be taken as such.

For example, if a husband invites his wife to a theater in order to meet her demand and support her interests even if he cannot stand this type of art, he lies to her about his desire to bear a company with pleasure. And this kind of life may be regarded as a white one because no one will suffer seriously from this idea, and only satisfaction and pleasure of a person will be the result. This white lie is a good example.

A person does not make harm, break someone’s dreams, or offend somebody. However, if we remember the situations which described by Crawford in his Last True Story I’ll Ever Tell, when a person cannot even believe in his own lies and realize what happens to him because of governmental lies and empty hopes (Crawford 602), or the situation in Shakespeare’s Othello, when Iago lied about his desire to serve (Shakespeare and Somogyi 4) to be promoted, be noticed, and be recognized as a worthwhile part of the society.

In Wilde’s work, the characters are always eager to tell and know the truth, however, the idea that the main character Dorian lies to everyone: to people who love him, to people he communicates with, and even to himself. The reality was rather paradoxical, and “the way of paradoxes is the way of truth” (Wilde and Mighall 40).

Finally, those lies people tell to each other are not as great and serious as the ones said by the government. Lies in politics are very frequent, and people cannot even recognize when a politician tells the truth and why he/she lies. There is no white lie in politics because national security and war on terrorism play an important role in society. And one white lie may influence considerably the results, this is why the political arena has to be purified of lies though now it seems to be impossible.

Our life is impossible without lies; almost each conscious person lies under some conditions. There may be no reasons for lying because it is something that is inherent to people. There is some kind of necessity of lying because it fulfils this world and make this life complete. May it happen that white lie differ from ordinary lie? It may but still the essence of any lie is still about hiding the truth that is usually important for people.

Works Cited

Crawford, John. “The Last True Story I’ll Ever Tell.” In Missy James and Alan P. Merickel Reading Literature and Writing Argument. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Professional Technical, 2004, 600-604.

Shakespeare, William and Somogyi, Nick. Othello: The Tragedie of Othello, the Moore of Venice. London: Nick Hern Books Limited, 2002.

The Invention of Lying. Dir. Ricky Gervais and Mathew Robinson. Perfs. Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, and Jonah Hill. Warner Bros. Pictures, 2009.

Wilde, Oscar, and Mighall, Robert. The Picture of Dorian Gray. New York: Penguin Classics, 2003.

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