13th Oct ‘11 (taken from my personal journal)

An interesting observation by my Indian colleague (working in England for 9 months) :

He asked the question “Why don’t English people like to be told the truth?
He went on to say that if a person is fat, or doesn’t look good, then in India they accept that fact, and get on with life. But here in England, if you were to say the same to their face, they would feel insulted, and may well become angry or abusive. (Perhaps this is the case in the wider, Western culture, rather than just England…?)
I’ve got to admit that he has a good point… and it is a sideline to my search for truth above.

Why does one feel good if complimented with an outright lie and say ‘Thanks’? And even one that you know to be a lie. But then feel angry when told the truth?
It’s a strange aspect of our lives that we will thank a person for telling a lie, but not for telling the truth…!
Is this exactly the same as Death and Susan were talking about in the following extract from Terry Pratchett’s book ‘The Hogfather’…?

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‘All right,’ said Susan. ‘I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need . . . fantasies to make life bearable.’
REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL?  NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN.  TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.
‘Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—’
YES.  AS PRACTICE.  YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.
‘So we can believe the big ones?’
YES.  JUSTICE.  MERCY.  DUTY.  THAT SORT OF THING.
‘They’re not the same at all!’
YOU THINK SO?  THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY.
… to start as children, learning the little lies, so that as adults, we can believe the big ones…
~~~~~~~~

What else do we believe in everyday life, that we haven’t realised is actually a lie…?
Certainly something that those is power could easily capitalise on…
Quite scary really!

Hmm… I wonder where this cultural trend comes from…? If it isn’t found in another cultures, then it is not a part of human nature, only a creation of culture.

(added 18th Oct ’11)
Incidentally, the book passage shows that the ‘concepts’ of Justice and Mercy are inventions of humanity. They don’t actually exist except within the constructs of society…. actually, maybe that isn’t quite true. Animal groups have (I’m thinking in particular of documentaries I’ve seen of chimps and wolves), in some cases, been shown to have a simpler version of justice and mercy, so perhaps these concepts are older than humanity…

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