I've been reading Divergent by Veronica Roth, and while I won't go into an in-depth analysis of the book, she does include a faction of society in her novel named Candor. This part of her futuristic society values honesty above all else. Citizens of Candor are always open and honest with absolutely nothing to hide and they wear black and white clothing as a physical representation of their beliefs. She didn't mention how or if they avoided hurt feelings or not. I think that this particular virtue is refreshing because I like to know exactly where I stand with someone, and it avoids the awkward he-said/ she-said Bullmess and endless hours of mind games and guess work trying to figure out motives and feelings.
I haven't always tried to be honest. I used to experience some sort of perverse pleasure from lying. I would lie about what I had for lunch, if I had homework, and other unimportant stuff. I was under the false impression that I was cool for being able to deceive others so easily. I regret acting that way. It wasn't cool, and it certainly didn't make me a better person. I've hurt people with untruths, and in the end I am the one who suffers. I've lost people because I haven't always been a good friend, and I want you to know that I am sorry, and you haunt my conscience every single day.
A quote from an episode of Frasier comes to mind "Honesty, having the courage to face each other with the honest truth." Being honest does take a measure of courage, especially if you're at fault or have done something you knew or now know to be wrong. I think that most people want other people to like them, and doing something wrong isn't a likable quality. Sometimes it's easier to lie than to tell the truth, it spares unnecessarily hurt feelings. Like when you're wife or girlfriend asks if she looks fat in her bathing suit- we don't really want your honesty because we'll feel bad about ourselves if you answer in the affirmative.
Honesty is also a double-edged sword. There's a big difference between being genuinely honest and brutally honest. You can be truthful without making someone feel like dirt. I know I've hurt people's feelings by telling them the truth, and I've also hurt people by telling them a lie- I feel better when you're upset over the truth. I also have some issues with being too forward or blunt, and I try a little harder to keep my filter in check these days.
We try and rationalize our reasons for lying. We have invented terms like "White Lies" or "Fibs". You're not telling the complete truth or you're omitting something on purpose so you can avoid drama, or otherwise withholding information for the other person's benefit. Like when you're asked to a friend's party and you'd rather stay home and watch America's Best Dance Crew; so you tell them that you're visiting you Grandma in the nursing home. It's better than telling them that their parties are a snooze and you hate their snobby boyfriend.
We don't always tell lies to protect ourselves, although that's often reason enough. Sometimes we want to protect our friends or loved ones, so it's considered less bad because it's a selfless act. You might even go as far as taking the blame for something that someone else did. There's a lot of reasons for doing this, but it really doesn't make it more or less wrong.
For whatever reason, I've found myself wanting to be more truthful. I don't blame Connor for the crayon drawings on the wall anymore, I don't think anyone really believed he could spell "Mommy is awesome" anyway. Not to mention that my chronic Iron deficiency is screwing with my memory, so it's also more convenient to be honest rather than trying to keep up with all kinds of lies.
I don't think we're born with the urge or ability to lie, but we pick it up fairly quickly. When you do something you're not supposed to and you get caught, you get reprimanded and/or punished- basic Pavlov Conditioning Behavior stuff. Connor has learned to lie. He'll smile and hide something behind his back while saying "Nothing" and then usually he'll follow it up with "I love you, Mommy" and blow me a kiss for good measure. Or he'll spill soda in the bed and blame it on the dog. And I don't really understand it, but he'll get hurt and then lie about being hurt. I'm onto him now, so we'll see how creative he gets in his teenage years.