The dichotomy of ‘good lie’ and ‘bad lie’

“….Was it the time I realised that adults were not
all they seemed to be,
They talked of love and preached of love,
But did not act so lovingly…."

As Markus Natten had beautifully pointed out in the above lines, adults find their place in the long rolls of hypocrites. They talk of love and preach of love, but these are only confined to words. One of the most cardinal preachings of the adults is on an essentially contested topic of ‘truth’. They always ask us to speak the truth and punish us for not doing so. However, does this really mean that adults are the epitome of righteousness and truth to an extent that they only speak the truth? Well, obviously, the most rational answer is ‘no’. All aren’t Mahatma Gandhi no? Then what backs the essence of truthfulness or righteousness imparted by the adults to the younger generation? How is it legitimized? 

Family is considered to be the lowest unit of social interaction. It’s the lowest social organization. If it is the miniature version of the society, the family will be, ipso facto, communitarian in spirit. As always, some liberal values are to be compromised in a communitarian atmosphere. Consequently, the size of the families started reducing and today, we can find people living alone preserving their sacrosanct individuality. The more the size of the family, the more communitarian it is and the more liberty, rights and independence are compromised. Family hence becomes a sphere of power- where power is feloniously exercised by the elders and the youngest ones and mostly women being mute recipients of the communitarian power thus exercised. All power relations are marked by hierarchy and family thus becomes a hierarchy of the elders over the younger ones and sometimes that of men over women.  The hierarchy of men over women in the family was challenged by the second wave feminists with a powerful slogan of ‘the personal is the political’. But what can the younger ones do? Simply being mute victims of the authoritarian, totalitarian and communitarian decision-making process with the least representation of themselves even on matters regarding their life, liberty and property. 

Coming back to the notion of truth and lie, the adult’s lie is often legitimized as a ‘good lie’. A ‘good lie’ is something that can be told, preached and are legally plausible. As opposed to this concept is the ‘bad lie’ that cannot be told, cannot be preached and invites punishment. But what makes a lie a ‘good lie’ or a ‘bad lie’? As far as I’ve observed, there can be two ways to determine what’s a ‘good lie’ and what’s a ‘bad lie’. Firstly, the lie told by the adults comes under the banner of a ‘good lie’ whereas the same lie told by the younger ones become a ‘bad lie’. What is to be noted in this case is age is the criteria that determine the nature of your lie.  Secondly, the lie which the children are made to say on behalf of the adults also comes under the category of a ‘good lie’. However, if the same lie is told by the child without the directions of the ‘high command’, then it is criticized to be a ‘bad lie’. 

Another interesting concept about this distinction is that the concept is not equally applicable to all situations. What all constitute a ‘good lie’ and what constitutes a ‘bad lie’ are determined from time to time by the adults. Also, a ‘good lie’ in my case needn’t be a ‘good lie’ in your case. Forget it. It’s you and me. A ‘good lie’ in my case today may not be a ‘good lie’ tomorrow and a ‘good lie’ in my case may not be so in my brother’s case. What is to be extrapolated from the situation is that the concept of ‘good lie’ and ‘bad lie’ are flexible- flexible to the overpowering whims and fancies of the adults and obviously, to the disadvantage of the children. 
In toto, what makes a lie qualified to be a ‘good lie’ simply depends upon the person who says it or the person by whose supervision it is said. This concept changes from time to time and place to place and even from person to person and families to families. This is quite natural, owing to the communitarian structure of the family. In the modern era, for social institutions like families to survive, it is necessary to democratize the structure. Internal decision-making processes shall be democratized and sacrosanct rights are to be protected with reasonable justifications. Also, any encroachment in the realm of such rights shall not be tolerated and the burden of justification shall be placed upon the adults. May the liberal ideas liberally sprinkle upon the social institution of the family.