Telling Lies Versus Keeping Secrets

It is not hard to keep secrets that must be kept. Secrets that have the potential to do serious damage of one kind or another—inflicting serious emotional or physical harm, for example—keep easily. While guilt may cause discomfort to the person keeping the secret, the reality of the cataclysmic consequence of revealing a secret or breaking a confidence keeps it locked safely inside.

The ease or difficulty of keeping a secret is irrelevant, though, to the decision to keep it. The decision to keep it is a moral choice; yet it doesn’t matter whether the secret itself has any moral dimensions. The moral aspect has to do with the effect of keeping, versus revealing, the secret. I could argue that it is right and proper and absolutely moral to keep a secret, the subject of which is clearly immoral. I would argue it’s the effect of revealing it that I’m judging, not the content of the secret. Keeping a secret is not the same as telling a lie, though it may be necessary to tell a lie to keep the secret, in which case the lie could be a legitimate tool, not an affront to honesty.

Some mornings, my mind has nothing more important to do than explore topics that other people might see no point in exploring. This may well be one such topic.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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