By lying, we deny our friends access to reality—and their resulting ignorance often harms them in ways we did not anticipate.
Vulnerability comes in pretending to be someone you are not.
Lying is, almost by definition, a refusal to cooperate with others. It condenses a lack of trust and trustworthiness into a single act. It is both a failure of understanding and an unwillingness to be understood. To lie is to recoil from relationship.
I’d make a distinction between the maxim-breakers—in other words, people who are harming others or stealing—and those who are merely lying or otherwise speaking unethically. Lying is not a crime unless it’s part of a fraud.
Or imagine buying a car that came with a special option that gave you information you might prefer to the truth: When you wanted to go fast, it would indicate that you were going even faster than you were. When you passed a gas station, it would tell you that you didn’t need any gas. Of course, nobody wants that. Well, then, why would you want it in your life in general?
I think that growth is encouraged by accurate feedback. Telling children they are always accomplishing wonderful things regardless of their actual accomplishments is not going to serve them when they face the world. Having a positive mental attitude toward life is prudential, but being overconfident in your abilities is not.
I once took a bus hoping to arrive in the city of Haldwani, in northern India. Boarding the bus, I asked the driver whether it was going to Haldwani. He assured me that it was and even sold me a ticket. After two hours, I grew concerned, because I had been told the trip wouldn’t take more than one. I asked a few of my fellow passengers if we were headed to Haldwani. They assured me that we were. After another hour I realized that I was on the wrong bus. I later learned that it was considered rude in this part of India to contradict a person’s stated beliefs. Apparently, these courteous people didn’t want to offend me by divulging that I had boarded the wrong bus. It is difficult for me to view this cultural norm as especially conducive to human flourishing.