Let me tell you a story. For the first five years I lived here, my landlord always acted like she hated me, and I just smiled and pretended to like her back. I cannot afford to make this woman mad. I cannot afford to be sincere with her. In my case, sincerity would have gotten me thrown out of this place long ago. Sincerity, like honestly, is overrated.
For instance, in the US we have this idiot attitude that we are supposed to be honest all the time and never lie. Not only is that unrealistic, but in a lot of cases, it’s downright stupid. In many cases, the only smart thing to do is lie. Forced with lying and telling the truth, lying is clearly the smarter case in many situations. Being honest in those situations is sort of suicidal. You are deliberately causing problems in your life just to carry the torch for Sincerity. What’s the point? Is your name Jesus? Why do you have to be honest all the time?
The Japanese are very smart about this, and much of their culture is based on strategic lying. They often lie in order to be polite. You tell a Japanese man that you never lie and he will laugh right in your face and call you a fool. Because of course that is exactly what you are.
Many Americans, for some idiot reason, like to tell people that they never lie. That in itself is of course a lie.
Sometimes this lie is necessary. For instance, in dating. In heterosexual dating, women typically demand honest men. Go on dating sites. “No liars! No players! Honest men only!” If you talk to women in this context (call it pre-dating), and I have talked to countless women in that context, you are often quizzed about whether or not you are honest.
If I am honest, I will have to say, “Of course not. I’m a big fat liar and proud of it. In fact, I am an excellent liar. You will rarely meet a liar as skilled as I am. I deserve a PhD in lying.”
But if I say that, I blow the potential date. So I lie and say that I am honest even to a fault. I say that I am so honest that my honesty gets me in trouble. I am an innocent babe in the woods, ignorant of worldly ways. If she thinks I am a fool for doing that, then I just adjust the lie and admit to white lies, lies of omission and strategic lying. A number of Americans are uncomfortable accepting of those sorts of good lies, but it’s clear that for an American, the very idea that there are good lies and bad lies opens up a huge can of worms that needs to stay sealed.