I’ve been up writing. I’ve been thinking about the merits of honesty and how much we should trust deception in others. It was sparked by talking with my dad, to whom I said:
I wish I had listened to you on the whole honesty thing at a younger age.
But fuck, hardly any kid learns that lesson early, do they?
Here are some of the highlights. I should preface this by saying that despite the repeated references to drunkenness, I’ve not had so much as a sip.
I want to do my best to paint my experiences as accurately as possible. If I can capture them in some way that gets them out of my brain I can show them to the world, so I can know if someone out there is seeing and feeling the same thing. If we are, then we’re truly not alone, and that means a lot in a huge and freezing universe. But I can only know if I’m willing to be honest with what I see and only f I work until I’m able to reproduce it in some way that’s meaningful to others.
It is only when I’m sober that I’m even tempted with dishonesty. While inebriated, it never even crosses my mind that lying could benefit me. Why is this? If you’re tempted to say it’s because I’m giving less thought to the consequences of my actions when drunk, I’d say that’s a mark against the world if it rewards a man for being less honest than he would be otherwise.
The evil temptation is not to honesty when drunk, it is to dishonesty when sober. The latter is the occasion for which there is rarely an excuse.
What does it say of this world that inebriation has great allegiance to the truth while sobriety so regularly tempts us to subvert it?
While I believe there are times when lying is a moral good, to this point I’ve rarely been able to conceive of a time when a man should actually be punished for telling the truth. It’s likely because I’ve never been in a position of power, because those people have shown a knack for it throughout history.
There have been times in my life when I’ve asked someone I cared about to lie for my benefit. I regret those times and would change them if I could. It occurs to me now that if the truth cannot benefit me, it’s me that needs to change, not the truth.
I like writing while inebriated. When I’m sober I lose a lot of time thinking about the best light to shine on the truth. When I’m not sober, I think the truth is beautiful everywhere. What a great world it would be if things were the opposite, and the truth really was wholly beautiful, and only the carelessness of inebriation tempted us to lies…
Silence is neither honest nor dishonest. But when an answer is expected, it frequently has the same effect as honesty only without any of the integrity.
There is no force that tempts us to abandon our integrity like someone we care about asking us to do it on their behalf. Sadly, most of us would choose to gut the truth rather than asking our friends what they did to set themselves at odds with it. How terrible people we must be to think so little of the truth and our friends.
The question, for me, is not if I should lie for my friends, but rather how I came to be friends to people who don’t share my allegiance to honesty?
There are noble reasons to lie. Most people confuse personal convenience with one of them.
It’s a terrible inconvenience that thoughts require the medium of words.
An unusual esteem for the truth can have an isolating effect. Not everybody entirely fears the truth, but most have something to lose if the right amount of it rears its head. For those who shrug, abandon their own pretension, and take the truth for what is is, we wind up staring at the rest of the world as they smile at us and back away to a safe distance, where the truth cannot hurt them. It’s why a lot of unhappy spouses die smiling while people like Oscar Wilde die in a bottle, where truth is easier, but with the world dismissing them as the miserable ones.