Ask most six year olds and they’ll tell you that it’s not ok to lie. This is what they’ve been taught from such a young age that they know that it’s not right to tell a lie.
Then we hit our teen years, and many of us start to wonder- is ok to tell a little white lie? Is it ok to “hide” the truth in certain situations? Clearly most of us know by the time we hit the seventh grade that it’s wrong to kiss your best friends boyfriend and not tell, but is it wrong not to tell your best friend that someone else kissed her boyfriend? Does it matter if you saw it first hand, or just heard through the grapevine? Fast forward to adulthood and it certainly doesn’t become any clearer. If someone comes to work with a bad new haircut, is it better to tell them that it’s a bad haircut, or is better merely not to compliment it?
Honesty is a relative term. According to Wikipedia, honesty can be defined as something that “refers to a facet of moral character and denotes positive, virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness, and straightforwardness along with the absence of lying, cheating, or theft.” While the absence of clear wrongdoing is paramount, there is wiggle room on the “to tell or not to tell” front. When it comes to a bad haircut, you are likely to hurt someone’s feelings if you flat out say it looks bad. On the flipside, depending on the situation, you may or may not feel comfortable saying “new haircut! I like that you went short,” vs lying and saying “I love the new haircut (even thought it looks terrible!).”
The lines become blurred when the question of intent comes into play. While a religious perspective would make most of us assume that it is always wrong to lie, there is a catch in Jewish thought. According to the torah, it is NOT wrong to NOT tell someone something that will hurt them. It is not a matter of telling things that are untrue, but rather it is a matter of not broadcasting truths that will hurt others. If it’s an issue of humility, privacy, or protecting someone, the torah does tell us that we can indeed choose not to tell the whole story.
Clearly honesty is a more loaded question than simply “is it OK to lie?”. I will not venture to say that there is a simple and clear cut answer to when it is or is not ok to evade the truth some, but it is an issue worthy of consideration. Honest, directed by Israeli Theater Company Theater Can, showing at Rattlesnake Bar and Grill on Aug 9th, will address just this and then some. Set in a bar, you appropriately get a drink with your ticket, so get your tickets now! For tickets, go to www.ncacboston.org/ticketing ($12 includes a drink).
About Honest: Directed by Shlomo Plessner and Premshay Hermon, Honest is a witty 1-man show set in a bar. Dave, a 30-something social inclusion specialist who is bright, cynical, and painfully honest, discovers that honesty is a double edged sword. He tells of his brutally honest assessment of his vague and boring job to his boss one night. As the story unfolds we see how honesty can be a double edged sword, and the 50 minute monologue takes on a drunken odyssey that leads to Dave’s redemption. Show will start at 6:30 pm. You will be able to order food off of the Rattlesnake menu throughout the evening. First drink is included in the price of admission.
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