The philosopher, Immanuel Kant, would say unequivocally, that it’s never okay to lie. Lying undermines the dignity of others, and, according to Kant, is always wrong. Yesterday in my list of things I did during a power outage, I wrote that it was okay to lie. Let me expand on that. My daughter, who worries a great deal about her aging parents, called to say we should drive up to her house to spend the stormy day(s). “We never lose power, Mom.”
“I think we’ll be fine, but if we lose power, we’ll drive up then.”
I made that promise knowing full well that I had no intention of keeping it. Why did I think it was okay? First of all, I know she didn’t believe me, so that made it all right. Second, there was no way the power would fail if the weather wasn’t horrid, and there was also no way anyone in their right mind would venture out in the midst of a horrid snowstorm. Finally, both of us know that the man of the house, once he has settled in, would no more change his mind than would the sun suddenly set in the east.
That, however, wasn’t the only lie I told yesterday.
“Don’t open the refrigerator or the freezer. If we keep the doors closed, we will probably save the food.”
“Okay, I won’t.” Another promise I knew as soon as I made it I had no intention of keeping. A contiainer of my favorite Edy’s coffee ice cream was NOT going to melt without being eaten. After the first hour, I slipped the ice cream out of the freezer, grabbed a spoon, and ate it in the bathroom. It was delicious. I was not sorry. I’m still not sorry.
So, I guess I’m a moral relativist (if that’s the correct term). I do think it’s wrong to lie, but I do it anyway when it doesn’t really hurt anyone. Well, scarfing down all that ice cream did hurt my waistline, but that’s a different story.