Trustworthiness – Is it ever okay to lie?

Over the next several weeks, we’ll be highlighting each of the Six Pillars of Character – trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. Maybe we’ll all think about the Pillars differently after spending time focusing on each one. Let’s get started with trustworthiness.

First, it is important to remember the difference between trust and trustworthiness. Trust is something you put into someone else, while trustworthiness is being worthy of trust from others.

Being worthy of trust comes from:

Integrity
People with integrity stand up for their beliefs, have the courage to do what is right and they build good reputations.

Honesty
An honest person tells the truth, is sincere and is forthright and candid.

Promise-Keeping
People who keep their promises honor their commitments, keeps their word, and are dependable.

Loyalty
People who demonstrate loyalty stand by, stick up for and protect their family, friends, school and country.

Here’s a few questions to ponder:

  • When is a “white lie” or a fib okay?
  • How many lies does it take for you to become a liar?

Share your thoughts in the comments and we’ll tell you what we think in a future post.

Tell us what you think!
JD Stites says:

I’ll shoot from the hip, here (without research or quotes from folks wiser than me). Maybe the answer depends on your definition of ‘okay’. Can we do something we think is wrong and still be comfortable/‘okay’ with ourselves? I think we all want/need, to feel ‘okay’ with ourselves. In other words, we all like to think of ourselves as basically good and worthy of respect and/or love. That’s why rationalizations are so handy. With rationalizations we can ‘fudge’ a bit and convince ourselves we’re doing it for more important reasons. As a parent, my ideal would be that my daughters would always be truthful with me and everyone else. So, if we really commit ourselves to always telling the truth, then maybe, like an old song says “it’s not what you do, but the way that you do it”. In other words, how can we be always truthful, and caring at the same time?

Carol Bodensteiner says:

Philosopher and ethicist Sissela Bok wrote a fascinating book on this topic: "Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private life." She suggests we often justify lying by saying the person can't handle the truth, e.g. a parent can't handle knowing their child is gay, or a wife can't handle knowing the husband lost his job or a patient can't handle knowing they are going to die. In fact, while the facts can be difficult, people almost always prefer to know the truth of the situation.

Bob Hoyt says:

If adjusting the truth to prevent injuring someone's feelings, it's okay. For example, telling a parent that his/her child died instantly in combat, in an accident, etc., when the death was long and excruciating is an acceptable exception to telling the truth. There would be no reason to share the painful truth in such an instance. However, in the vast majority of cases, telling the truth is the first and best option. A lie is not acceptable if it benefits the liar.

Previous post: • Next post:
Just Give

1213 25th Street     |     Des Moines, IA 50311     |     515-271-1910     |     Email Us

© 2013 Character Counts In Iowa