Jan 11, 2017

Scott Peck on white lies

White lies may be every bit as destructive as black ones.  A government that withholds essential information from its people by censorship is no more democratic than one that speaks falsely...  Indeed, because it may seem less reprehensible, the withholding of essential information is the most common form of lying, and because it may be the more difficult to detect and confront, it is often even more pernicious than black-lying.

White-lying is considered socially acceptable in many of our relationships because "we don't want to hurt peoples' feelings.  Yet we may bemoan the fact that our social relationships are generally superficial.  For parents to feed their children a pap of white lies is not only considered acceptable but is thought to be loving and beneficent...  Usually such withholding and lack of openness is rationalized on the basis of a loving desire to protect and shield their children from unnecessary worries...  The result, then, is not protection but deprivation.  The children are deprived of the knowledge they might gain about money, illness, drugs, sex, marriage, their parents, their grandparents and people in general...  Finally, they are deprived of role models of openness and honesty, and are provided instead with role models of partial honesty, incomplete openness and limited courage.

~ M. Scott Peck, M.D., The Road Less Traveled, "Withholding Truth," pp. 59-60

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