Usually the lies were small, un-necessary prevarications.
They might have been easier and shorter than telling the truth, avoiding a longer conversation.
They might have been told to avoid commitments, used instead of simple assertive saying no.
Sometimes, I've seen my new employees lie for me. "Rob is on another call," she'd say, thinking it was protecting me from taking a call I didn't want to take.
I've made it clear to employees I don't want them to lie for me. "Tell him I am not available now." I might instruct. That's the truth. I am not making myself available. It's a small difference in message, but a huge difference in character. One is a lie. The other is the truth.
I don't understand how people can justify these little lies. Some people prefer to lie over being assertive. Problems with assertiveness is a psychological issue, I guess. But so is lying. And lying throws in problems with character.
The other day, a clerk at a store gave me a dime back, instead of a nickel. I pointed it out to her, not wanting to get her in trouble when the cash register balance was reconciled at the end of the day. "We're out of nickels," she explained. That was cool, as long as she knew. I don't want to sell my integrity for a nickel, and taking advantage of others' mistaked does that.
I took a slap in the face the other day-- went to a movie and the woman offered me a dollar saving for a senior citizen ticket. That one might have been vanity more than character, but I declined-- I have a year to go before I qualify for the 60 year old savings. But I wonder how many people sell their integrity for that dollar.
This is a slippery slope. Call me picky, but I think that little lies accumulate to produce an erosive effect, both on self esteem and character. It really bothers me when national advertisers run TV commercials which include people blatantly lying. That's bad for our society.
We've reached a point where police lie routinely to trick prisoners or as part of their investigations. Politicians, well, they do it too. The military does it. Intelligence agencies do it.
Prohibition against lying overall was never one of the Ten Commandments. There is a proscription against bearing false witness against your neighbor or using the name of God in vain, as in, "I swear to God." But the ten commandments do give a pass to the little lies. Then again, my personal take is that members of the clergy lie all the time-- sometimes about aspects of their faith, sometimes about what they know about God, sometimes for the sake of power.
We live in a culture where you can lie with your facebook or dating site photo-- using a ten or twenty year old photo. You can lie by omission, leaving things out. You can lie in a plethora of new ways and old ways. That makes it even harder to tell the truth.
Truth is a whole other issue outside of lying. I mean, it is one thing to make a statement that you know is untrue. "Rob is not here to take your phone call." It is another thing to be able to know, discern and provide "the truth" in the news, when there are many interpretations. But what looks like a duck and walks like a duck is usually a duck. The media are often guilty of allowing people to say half truths, to avoid answering questions that get to the truth or to show the full story.
The truth is not going through an evolutioinary process. Truth is truth. But our culture is going through major changes in how it deals with truth and lying. It's something we need to think about, talk about and make conscious decisions about, not simply allow to happen, affected by technologies, media and other cultural factors.
Lots of people lie when they don't have to. It's too bad there's no way to put labeling on lies, like there is on packaged food. If it was possible to create such a warning, it might read something like this:
Little lies can cause long term damage to your psyche, your heart, your trust in others, your relationships, your self esteem, your job stability, even your ability to see reality clearly.