Assignment: Is it always essential to tell the truth, or are there circumstances in which it is better to lie? Plan your response, and then write an essay.
This world, with everything on it, is in a constant state of dualism. Moral dualism represents the conflict between two aspects of one’s personality: benevolent and malevolent. Truth and lies, as parts of our existence, are two opposites that can hardly reach harmony.
Depending on one’s perception, truth distorted by “white lies” is acceptable as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. Lies are part of our everyday life. We are constantly subjected to “altered truth” when we watch commercials, movies, and even news. Every human being has told a lie and endured lies. Although it is our moral responsibility to remain sincere, some situations prevent us from telling the absolute truth.
Due to the fact that everyone perceives the world through his own lenses, truth can mean different things to different people. Both truth and lies are subjective; there is no objective truth that would cause the same feelings with all people. People can be very tolerant to lies, but their ego becomes fragile when they hear a fact they didn’t want to face.
Thus, we tend to adapt our attitude towards someone, depending on the effects the truth would cause. There are truths that must be told, but there are also things that are better left unsaid. We decide whether we remain truthful, alter the facts with white lies, or tell a complete lie that would seem appropriate in the situation.
Although telling a lie is acceptable when we don’t want to hurt someone with the truth, we should never allow ourselves to accept lies as a style of life. Only honesty can bring people together and create lasting connections based on love and trust. There is a thin line between insincerity and deception.
The thing that causes people to tell lies is usually a selfish purpose. We are not trying to protect someone from being hurt when we tell lies; we are essentially concerned about our own comfort. No matter how much we try to justify “little inaccuracies”, the essence of truth remains the same: it is the only right thing to do.
Only if we stop using lies to protect ourselves from the consequences of the truth, we will understand our purpose. Every individual makes important contributions to the cosmopolitan events. When we realize that responsibility, lies will no longer seem natural. No matter how much we try to repress, bypass, distort, hide, and neglect truth, it will never seize to exist. There is a marvelous cosmic law that makes no compromise: the truth always remains a silent witness in reality.
The truth is purity and virtue. Lies cause discomfort, which is followed by larger plots that tangle more with time. One lie raises another one, leading into a vicious circle with no way out. The truth is the only way to preserve our moral purity and prevent crises of identity. It is never better to lie. Truth cannot be an option; it is an essential necessity because all paths of life lead towards it.
Read new assignment prompt“A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.” – Alexander Pope
I’ve taught the Timed Essay for the SAT/ACT many times. I’ve read hundreds of essays that answer the prompts we use for that class.
It feels like I’ve heard it all, as far as content is concerned. I like to tell my students that if you can earn a total score of 6-8 on the essay (that means that each of your two graders will give a score of 3 or 4), you’ve done well enough to feel good about the test. I rarely hear of students earning a 10, have only ever heard of one 11, and have yet to know anyone scoring the maximum 12. (If your kid did, let me know!)
As a result, I read these essays with the intention of finding solid, competent writing, with some interesting personal anecdote material interwoven. Every now and then, a student startles me with insight and fresh ideas. The essay below is an example of what I would score a 5-6 (meaning a 10-12 total) if I were a grader.
Read the prompt first:
A little inaccuracy saves a world of explanation.
Is it always essential to tell the truth, or are there circumstances in which it is better to lie? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.
Here’s the essay:
I was once told by a friend that, “Lying is never right. In some cases though, it is the lesser of two evils.” Although I have not always followed this principle, I do agree with it.
As a young child, I felt the need to act “mother” with my little sister. I wanted especially to calm her when she was hurt. Unfortunately, she didn’t get hurt nearly as often as I wanted to mother her. To “remedy” this, I regularly bit her. I didn’t bite her hard enough to cause her any physical harm, only just hard enough to make her cry. When my mother would ask me why my sister was crying, I would say, “She bit herself.” This was when I was 4 or 5. My mother didn’t know the truth about these incidents until a year or two ago. Even though by that time the incidents occurred too long ago for me to be punished, my mom was not pleased with me. These lies, and the fact that I hid them for so long, still serve as an embarrassment and a source of guilt to me.
At other times, I have lied to try to hide something someone else did. Once, my little sister smeared her sticky hands all across the mirrors just after they had been cleaned. Being the older sibling, my mother called me in to tell her what happened. I knew my little sister would get in trouble if I told on her, so I lied and said I did it. My mom believed me and I was mildly punished for my sister’s crime. Even though I knew what she’d done was wrong and I knew she deserved the punishment, I didn’t want my little sister to be harmed. I lied out of love. I considered my little sister’s pain more important than my own.
My final example of lying as the lesser of two evils is probably cliched. Anne Frank and her family, and many other Jews in Nazi Germany, hid from the Nazis for several years. During that time, the Franks trusted their friends to not tell the Nazis where they were hidden. They trusted their friends to lie about their hiding place. In such cases, where if the truth is told it means death, lying is most certainly the lesser of two evils.
Lying should never be considered optimal. It should never be considered the first choice, the first escape. We should always try to find another choice first. If there is no other choice, though, or the only other choices have worse consequences than the lie, telling a lie can be considered a valid choice.
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