Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Day 149 - Transparency, Full Disclosure, Lies of Omission

So you're at a red light at 2AM in the morning and you need to make a left turn.  You look around and nobody is around.  No cars, No humans, not even an animal in sight.  You aren't short on time, or even if you are, you're tired and just want to go home.  Do you turn left on a red light or do you wait for the extraordinarly long light?  I ask this question to people I am not sure about.  The answer for me defines their character.  What does one do when nobody's watching?  Or at least when they think nobody is watching.

My friend and I have this debate all the time as he would turn because his value of time overrides the law when it doesn't [in his opinion] hurt or harm anybody else.  I say that albeit inconvenient, wait til the light turns green.  This lead to a discussion on ethics, and values and lying.  I then discovered that this same person doesn't believe that telling all the details is pertinent all the time. I tend to disagree as full disclosure is paramount for people to make educated decisions.  I tend to view omission of the facts, even the minute facts as lying especially if the person telling the story is trying to subvert or all together avoid some other discussion or some other detail.  I think doing the right thing is always telling the truth with all its minute details.

I learned this from raising teenagers.  I asked the questions but inevitably if I didn't ask the one specific direct question, they would say, you didn't ask that.  Something like this...yes you can stay at your friends house but what are you planning on doing there?....watching tv and just hanging out...Any girls going to be there?...no Are the parents going to be home?...yes...What time will you be home? 9 AM...ok, you can go.  Many times I've called the parents to which the the friends of my sons belonged and always asked two questions: 1) Do you smoke?  2) Are there any guns in the house?  EVERY SINGLE parent I asked these questions of replied that it was remarkable that I had asked these questions and they were glad to see that there were other responsible parents.  I didn't mind if the parents smoked cigars or cigarettes or if they owned a gun, I just wanted to know.  If they had a gun, I had the "be defensive not offensive" talk with the kids.  They have told me that they have actually ordered a friend to put a gun down that was pointing toward others as a result of these type of discussions.

And of course one night that my son was staying "at a friends house" I was driving home late from a game and saw him on the sidewalk downtown nearly two miles from the friends home.  To which I pulled over and asked, "What are you doing out on the streets?" Coming from a background where the horn blew at 9 PM and all children were to be in their homes, this was odd for me to see my 15 year old out at 11PM at night.  We are just hanging out.  I said, "You didn't tell me you were going to be hanging out down town in the streets?" To which they replied, "You didn't ask me that."  See what I mean?  I asked them what they planned on doing "there" which implied "at the house" I didn't ask the specific question, "What are you plans for the entire evening?"

George Orwell first coined the phrase "lies of omission."  
(from www.convinceme.net posted by Accepitor) ....To lie by omission is to remain silent and thereby withhold from someone else a vital piece (or pieces) of information. The silence is deceptive in that it gives a false impression to the person from whom the information was withheld. It subverts the truth; it is a way to manipulate someone into altering their behavior to suit the desire of the person who intentionally withheld the vital information; and, most importantly, it's a gross violation of another person's right of self-determination.

George Orwell, as far as I have been able to determine, was the first to coin the phrase when referring to the government....[below is from George Orwell]


I take exception to the concept in principle for the following reasons:


1. Remaining silent is your absolute right. I am under no obligation to correct the misconceptions of other people. If I choose to give the person access to information to which I am privy, then I do that by choice.


2. The silence may be misconstrued and the other person may very well take that to mean something which it simply does not mean. People gather and make decisions all the time based on little or no accurate information. Unless you feel I have a responsibility to correct every misconception of every person with whom I am engaged in conversation; my silence cannot be misconstrued as a lie.


3. The person’s right to self determination is, by definition governed by the self. The decisions they make is based on the best information they have at the time of the decision. Their failure to gather more information does not constitute my lie.


To lie is to actively participate in a deception. To do nothing cannot also be an active participation. 


When making analogies to prove your point in rebuttal, please do not attempt linking the denial of a statement or the use of the term “I don’t know” or a simple shrug of the shoulders. They would qualify as actions and therefore active participation in the deception. This could turn into an interesting question of ethics as well.


This is me BJ again now.....I underline the phrase, "their failure to gather information" because I've been accused of asking too many questions.  I've been told by my friends that they have a feeling like they are being interrogated by myself when I'm really just in a fact-gathering mode and am just trying to get information that will allow me my right of self-determination and ability to make informed decisions.  Most people who have nothing to hide don't find this offensive.  At any given time they have the right to give more information or to ask me to stop asking them questions.  Which my friends have done on occasion.  I've meant no harm. EVER.  But for the person(s) who withhold the details, purposely, I can't say the same.

I disagree with George Orwell on his justification [albeit from the Government] for omission of facts.  He states that "to do nothing cannot also be an active participation."  He's playing with words just like my teenage sons did at that age and most adult liars still do.  To do nothing is passive aggressive behavior which is active participation as it is a conscious decision to do nothing.  My point being if there is lying by omission, this a symptom of a bigger problem.  Do the right thing and get rid of people in your life who practice this kind of behavior..

The passive aggressive ignores problems in the relationship, they see things through their own skewed sense of reality and if forced to deal with the problems will completely withdraw from the relationship and you. They will deny evidence of wrong doing, distort what you know to be real to fit their own agenda, minimize or lie so that their version of what is real seems more logical.

For me, the most logical relationships are based on transparency, full disclosure and the truth, regardless of fear.  The fear of being discovered in a web of lies eventually should be greater than being discovered later at all.  As another dear friend says, "A cork in the ocean, always rises to the top eventually."  Just like the truth.

Here are the symptoms to look out for:

Common Passive Aggressive Behaviors:
  • Ambiguity: I think of the proverb, "Actions speak louder than words" when it comes to the passive aggressive and how ambiguous they can be. They rarely mean what they say or say what they mean. The best judge of how a passive aggressive feels about an issue is how they act. Normally they don't act until after they've caused some kind of stress by their ambiguous way of communicating.
  • Forgetfulness: The passive aggressive avoids responsibility by "forgetting." How convenient is that? There is no easier way to punish someone than forgetting that lunch date or your birthday or, better yet, an anniversary.
  • Blaming: They are never responsible for their actions. If you aren't to blame then it is something that happened at work, the traffic on the way home or the slow clerk at the convenience store. The passive aggressive has no faults, it is everyone around him/her who has faults and they must be punished for those faults.
  • Lack of Anger: He/she may never express anger. There are some who are happy with whatever you want. On the outside anyway! The passive aggressive may have been taught, as a child, that anger is unacceptable. Hence they go through life stuffing their anger, being accommodating and then sticking it to you in an under-handed way.
  • Fear of Dependency: From Scott Wetlzer, author of Living With The Passive Aggressive Man. "Unsure of his autonomy and afraid of being alone, he fights his dependency needs, usually by trying to control you. He wants you to think he doesn't depend on you, but he binds himself closer than he cares to admit. Relationships can become battle grounds, where he can only claim victory if he denies his need for your support."
  • Fear of Intimacy: The passive aggressive often can't trust. Because of this, they guard themselves against becoming intimately attached to someone. A passive aggressive will have sex with you but they rarely make love to you. If they feel themselves becoming attached, they may punish you by withholding sex.
  • Obstructionism: Do you want something from your passive aggressive spouse? If so, get ready to wait for it or maybe even never get it. It is important to him/her that you don,t get your way. He/she will act as if giving you what you want is important to them but, rarely will he/she follow through with giving it. It is very confusing to have someone appear to want to give to you but never follow through. You can begin to feel as if you are asking too much which is exactly what he/she wants to you to feel.
  • Victimization: The passive aggressive feels they are treated unfairly. If you get upset because he or she is constantly late, they take offense because; in their mind, it was someone else's fault that they were late. He/she is always the innocent victim of your unreasonable expectations, an over-bearing boss or that slow clerk at the convenience store.
  • Procrastination: The passive aggressive person believes that deadlines are for everyone but them. They do things on their own time schedule and be damned anyone who expects differently from them.

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