When is it okay to lie?

Note: sorta like To Be A Hero, this post is a bit of a brain dump. Usually I do a lot more to organize it, but in this case, because it’s sort of an argument with myself, I just want to give a bit of a glimpse of how my thought process on this went. Also, this post was written several weeks ago.


Recently in a book discussion (with the same group mentioned in To Be A Hero) we were discussing the book Number The Stars in which a family hides escaping Jews from Nazis. The question was brought up asking whether it was okay for the family to lie about hiding the Jews, and we ended up getting into a whole discussion on it. This is what I got out of it along with my follow-up of it. Just to be clear, just because I say something doesn’t mean it’s true.

So when is it okay to lie? In the case of the Nazis and the Jews, would it be better to lie or tell the truth? We probably would tell the truth, but why? After talking a while, I had the thought that maybe when considering the situation, you should see which is the greater sin: to murder someone (or let someone die) or lie? Obviously the latter. There, we have a solution.

However, someone brought up the excellent point that it wouldn’t actually be your fault. That is, even if you knew that the man standing in front of you would kill someone unless you lied, it still wouldn’t actually be you murdering someone if you tell the truth. It’s that man’s choice to kill, not yours. Even if it might feel like you were the murderer, the man didn’t have to kill that person. With that in mind, you can’t really compare two sins because it’s either you sin and lie or they sin and murder someone.

Maybe instead of comparing two sins you compare the two ends: someone dies or you sin. You compare the outcomes and choose the one that is more important to you. You could maintain your integrity and tell the truth or you can sin and save a life. Unfortunately, this has it’s faults as well. What would be better is asking what is more important to God, you obeying His commandments or the other person living.

What if you were told to deny your faith or someone would die? Denying your faith is a much greater sin than merely lying, at least in the opinion of most people I’ve talked about it with. We are told to never tell lies, but there are always possible exceptions like the situation in the last few paragraphs. We are also told to never deny our faith, but unlike merely lying we are often told that it is better to die than deny your faith. But what if it is someone else who will die? We can go back to the weighing priorities, which is worse, which would you rather, which would God rather, which is the right way to determine it, etc., but it doesn’t really help. It’s a conundrum.

Let’s come back to that later. Another topic that was brought up is was about less important, smaller lies. It was said that part of what you should consider is for what type of reasons you were lying, whether you were lying for selfish or unselfish reasons. When someone is lying for selfish reasons, it is usually a bad thing e.g. you don’t want to admit to breaking the vase or stealing the candy, you want to trick someone into doing something wrong, you want to get somewhere you shouldn’t be, etc. These are all associated with lying (sinning) to cover up other sins.

Meanwhile, unselfish lies are generally associated with better reasons, e.g. you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, you don’t want to spoil the surprise party, you want to keep an immoral thing from a child, etc. These are usually done with good intentions, even if it is done by sinning (lying).

Having heard this idea of “selfish reasons vs. unselfish reasons”, I decided to apply my “weighing the priorities” idea. I thought, “What is the greater sin? Lying or getting in trouble for something you did wrong?” This would be lying for selfish reasons, and clearly lying to get out of admitting your sins would be sin. On the other hand, what would be worse, lying or insulting a friend? In this case, because we are doing it for someone else, we usually think that lying would be the lesser of the two sins.

But didn’t we decide that weighing which was the greater or lesser sin wasn’t necessarily the best way? So, instead, let’s say which is more important to you, not lying or not insulting your friend? Again, we’d usually think that not being rude would be better than not lying. What about for a selfish reason? Which is more important to you, owning up to your guilt and being punished or simply lying and getting away with it? This is why earlier I said that “which is more important to you” isn’t a good way either.

Which is more important to God? Generally He wants you to learn from your mistakes and take appropriate action to fix them, which pretty much includes telling the truth. So, by this ruling we shouldn’t lie for selfish reasons. What about for unselfish reasons? Which would He rather, you obey His command to be kind or His command to be truthful? Those of us who face this problem generally try to find a sort of middle ground, trying to not actually tell a lie, but also trying to not insult your friend. It’s a narrow path we walk all the time, and it is well-worn by the footfalls of all the indecisive.

Here’s another thing I wanted to mention that ties to two different strings of thought together: what if you had to lie to save your own life? Lying to save someone else’s life is almost always more on the unselfish side, which we decided is more of a gray area, but what about lying to save yourself? Most people don’t live entirely for others, so pretty much no matter what you’d be lying for selfish reasons. Unfortunately, we just decided in the last paragraph that we shouldn’t lie for selfish reasons. So I guess you should tell the truth and die.

On the other hand, going back to the weighing of greater vs. lesser sins (I keep bringing it up because it offers an interesting view), wouldn’t telling the truth in that situation be the equivalent to killing yourself? We are commanded to not lie. We are also commanded to not commit suicide, and considering suicide rates versus lying rates as well as common sense, lying is pretty much universally considered the lesser sin. So does that mean that we should lie to not commit suicide?

But then there was that point brought up a while ago: it’s not you who is killing someone. It’s the fault of whoever is threatening you. You’re not committing suicide, you’re telling the truth and they’re committing murder! Meanwhile, if you lie, you’ve sinned (for a selfish reason nonetheless). So which is more important, to sin and live or tell the truth and die? Which is ultimately the right decision? I don’t know, maybe it’s better to live on and repent than die telling the truth, or maybe it’s better to die opposing sin.

What if you were told to deny your faith or die? Denying your faith is generally considered a greater sin than merely lying, so we have to take that into consideration. Then there is also the fact that God has promised blessings in heaven to those who die in His name, so there’s always that. Perhaps this means that in this situation you should never deny your faith so that when you go to heaven you will be rewarded where it matters more. Unfortunately, even then there’s still the argument that it might be better to live on and repent. Who would have thought this would be so hard?

To conclude, this is a very complicated topic that can be carried on and on. For those who have read this far, I do actually have a solution. Even if it seems like a cop-out answer, it is the truth, at least as far as I can tell as a mere mortal: Ultimately, we must listen to the Spirit. We must ask the Lord and obey His commands. We must live our lives according to His gospel and strive to seek for, listen to, and obey His commands and advice as they are given to us through the Holy Ghost. Only then we will be prepared to make the hard decisions. Only then will we be able to answer the question of when it is okay to lie and know that we got it right. I know this, and I hope that you will too if you don’t already. Thank you for reading.

~ George

 

To Be A Hero

Note: Unlike most posts, this post is more of a brain dump, in which my thoughts are just swirling around in my head and I just need to write them down. Usually I do a lot more to organize it, but in this case, because I don’t really have a conclusion, I just want to give a bit of a glimpse of how I think/write. Note: this was written a few months ago.


What makes someone a hero, or something heroic? After a really good book discussion earlier tonight, I came up with Four key things to look at:

  1. What was done
  2. How it was done
  3. Why it was done
  4. The scenario (when, where, & who) that it was done in

Each of these can be used as a reason for something to be heroic or not heroic. For example if someone were to save a planet from destruction he would be called heroic. This would be an example of the What. However, someone who saved the planet but did it by completely annihilating another planet would have done something great (he saved the country), but the way he did it (the How) was awful. Does he still deserve to be called a hero? Also, if there was no other way to save his own planet without destroying the other planet (which may have been trying to destroy his planet), does the Scenario justify the How?

What if someone saves a planet (What) by doing (How) nothing but that which would be considered “good” by the average person. He would again be called a hero. But if the reason he did it was purely for self gain (Why), would he truly be a hero inside? Would the reason that he did good outweigh the good that he did, at least in an eternal perspective, or when looking for a role model? What if someone kills someone but did it to save his family? Would the Why outweigh the What? Many people seem to think along this line, but it can be harder to determine than it seems

For example, I once heard/read that no villain thinks himself the villain. While there are of course many exceptions, what if someone destroys an innocent planet (What) with no provocation (Scenario), but does so because he believes it is the best thing to do? What if Hitler thought that he was doing the world a favor (which, I hear, he may actually have thought)? The Why may be good intentions, but does it outweigh the What? I don’t know. I simply don’t know.


More about the other things. If you do something good (What), but in a terrible way (How), which is more important, the How or the What? Does the end justify the means? What if you do something awful, but the way that you do it is really good (for example, drive a government/nation into bankruptcy by giving food to the poor)? Do the means justify the end?

Another thing: At what point does the How become the What? After all, Every single “How”, if taken individually, becomes a “What”. If only the What counts, what if you don’t finish the What and are left halfway through the How? If the How is good but the end was bad, then now you managed to do a good thing without the bad results (gave food to the poor without driving the government/nation into bankruptcy). However, if the How is bad and the end was good, and you get stopped before it’s finished, then now you’re stuck with having done something bad without getting the good results you were looking for.

So is the What the end of the process, meanwhile the How anything before that? As hinted at before, how do you know when to stop the clock and check whether the result is good or bad? What if you accomplish a good What, but it’s only good for a short period which becomes the cause for something really bad to happen? Does the What suddenly become a How?


What’s the difference between the Why and the Scenario? Perhaps the Scenario is what is going on outside or you, meanwhile the Why is what is going on inside of you. In the case of saving your family by killing someone, the Scenario is that your family is under threat, meanwhile the Why is that you wanted to protect them.


Finally, what is good and what is bad? What What’s are bad things to do, what How’s are bad ways to do things, what Scenarios justify what actions, and what Why’s are good reasons to take those actions? I’m Christian, and I’m thankful that I can look to God, His scriptures, and His Prophets for what is ultimately right and what is wrong, so fortunately I don’t have to get into an unending post trying to describe good vs. bad. However, I will leave with this statement:

To be a Hero, Do the Right things, the Right way, in the Right situation, and for the Right reasons, reasons which are based on the Right principles, which principles you can find as you look toward God for guidance.

~ George

Change Log from November 18 to January 31

Special note for this change log: This change log is HUGE because it’s been so long since I’ve done one. I want to get back into it and maybe make it a weekly thing, but with school coming up I don’t know. The problem with change logs is that they take a lot of time to do, but hopefully that time is outweighed by the convenience of all the information it’d have. It’s a fine balance between spending my limited time on change logs and actual posts, but I’ll try to find it.

______________________________________________________________________

Every few days I make a post that highlights all the changes and/or posts that have been made since the last change log. This way I can update previous posts and actually have the changes be found, plus readers will be able to get easy access to all the new posts without scrolling down too much. Note: Since this post may be the last thing I post on a given day, it is less likely to be properly cleaned up, as I will be rather tired at that point

New Posts:

Major Changes:

Minor Changes:

    • I’ve changed some stuff, but I can’t remember what it was. This is why I need to make the change log often!

Of Special Note:

    • none

Certified Incredible:

    • Wow…

~ George

Completed Game Idea: Up-or-Down

After creating a very complicated (but very cool) game called Djinn Combat (which is still in development) I wanted to create a simpler game that shared a specific aspect with Djinn Combat that I really liked: that it could be played anywhere, at anytime, and with nothing but you and another player. So I created the game I call Up-or-Down.

The concept is simple enough to learn. The first player (P1) says a number 1-100, and the next player (P2) says a different number based on what the first person said. If the P1 said an Odd number, then P2 has to say an Odd number that is Above the number that P1 said or an Even number that is Below the number that P1 said. However, if P1 said an Even number, then P2 has to say an Even number that is Above the number that P1 said or an Odd number that is Below the number that P1 said. Three other restrictions are that the number can’t be less than 1 (it can be 1 though), it can’t be more than 100 (it can be 100 though), and it can’t be the number that was last said (after all, that isn’t above or below the number that was said).

For example, if P1 said 53 (an odd number), then P2 could say something like 67 (an odd number above 53) or something like 2 (an even number below 53). However, if P1 said 8 (an even number), P2 could say an even number that is above 8,  such as 100, or an odd number that is below 8, such as 7.

You can also have as many players as  you want, although there are two different ways to play. In each version you have an order, such as P1 then P2 then P3 then P4 then P1 again. If P1 said 5, P2 said 7, and P3 said 8, P3 would have lost, but P4 would continue the chain with P3’s last response, meaning that he could answer 10, or 80, or 1, etc. Note: even if the person who went out said a really wrong number, like 1 million, the next player still has to say a number that is valid (between 1 and 100 and the correct even/odd-ness)

The different versions of multiplayer involve what happens after someone goes out. Version #1 is a tournament version, in which if someone says the wrong number they lose and have to stop playing until the end of that game. Whoever the last one still in wins, and he/she gets to choose the first number for the next game.

Version #2 is a training mode, in which no one goes out. If someone says the wrong number, then he/she gets to change his/her number to one that fits. This way people can more easily learn the game without having to wait until the next game every time they go out. However, you can still have a winner by keeping track of whoever the last person to make a mistake is.

Feel free to add any rules that you’d like, it’s pretty adaptable. Hopefully I’ll soon have a post on alternate ways to play to make it harder or different once you have it down. Either way, enjoy!

~ George

GPS Measuring Device

What if you could measure the length of a room without all the hassle of finding a tape measure, getting someone to hold one end down, then moving to the other end of the room? What if all you needed was your phone?

Wouldn’t it be cool if someone managed to make an app or phone functionality that would let you hit a button in the app, move your phone, and the GPS would tell you how far the phone moved? You could stand at one end of the room, hit the button, walk to the other side of the room, hit the button again, and the phone would spit out a number saying how long the room is!

Unfortunately, a quick Google search says that GPS’s are only accurate to 3-15 meters, but maybe there are other ways. I know that phones can detect how many steps someone has taken in a day, so maybe it can use some of that functionality to detect how fast and how long the phone moved and use those numbers to tell you how far it moved.

If not a phone, then maybe someone could invent a device that splits in two and measures the distance between the two halves. Just set them on opposite sides of the room and hit a button to get your answer. They would even work with smaller things like a toothpick; you would just set them closer together. Or they could also work with larger things, like a soccer field. Again, just move the halves apart and push the button.

It would be best if they would transmit information in a way similar to those remote controls that can work no matter where you’re pointing them, so that it wouldn’t matter if something was in the way or not. I bet there’s a way to find the delay between the sending of the information and the receiving of the information, which can be multiplied by the speed of light to find the needed distance.

I’m not sure how practical it would be to make, but I think it would be an awesome invention and would certainly want to buy it.

~ George

For the Strength of All

One of my ideas has just gotten bigger than any I’ve had before. I call it For the Strength of All. You can find the description and/or sign up at its website ForTheStrengthOfAll.com or you can read the description copied from there and pasted below.

My name is George

20141203_172553[1]

I’m 16, almost 17, I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, otherwise known as Mormons, and around November 2014 I had an idea.

I was doing my Duty to God (a program for young men in the church), and one of the things it requires you to do is read up on one of the For the Strength of Youth sections, apply it to your life, and share what you learned. So I kept reading and reading the different sections and suddenly I felt the spirit come over me. Different people feel the spirit in different ways, but for me the best way to describe it is that it was almost like a great swelling in my chest. What I felt was that, if we were to live everything in the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet, we would be one of the happiest people alive. “Ahh, if only I could just start living all of this! If only I had enough time! If only it was possible!”

But then I realized something; There is a way you can do this. I counted up how many sections there are in the For the Strength of Youth. 19. Ok, let’s see, 52/19 equals… about 3. So, if on New Year, I were to commit to live one of the principles steadfastly for three weeks, then switch to the next principle for three weeks, I could live EVERY SINGLE STANDARD IN THE BOOK IN ONE YEAR. I plan on living much longer than that. One year is nothing when you think of 20, 40, 60 years of life to live through. This was the fast lane, a quick way to a better me! I had to do it.

After realizing this, I felt a need to share it with others. Before I could do that, however, I had to test to see if it would work. So my family and I, over Family Home Evening, committed to stick word for word to the book’s instructions on Entertainment and the Media until Thanksgiving, which was about 3 weeks away. The experiment was a partial success. It started really well, but the farther and farther from the original commitment the less and less we remembered it. To fix that, as part of my idea I will send out an email reminding everyone subscribed of the current commitment every day for the rest of the year.

While the failed part of the experiment was useful, the success part of the experiment was just as important. One byproduct was that by instigating a one-strike rule for movies and books I was able to train myself to “just say no” to things that drove the spirit away. Even months after the experiment I still feel its effects. It would work! Now it was time to share it with others.

So here we are. I made For the Strength of All so that others and myself can get a jump-start on God’s commandment to be perfect. He wants us to love Him, and the best way to show our love for Him is to keep His commandments. The prophet has said that so long as we are better today than we were yesterday, God is pleased. Through For the Strength of All I hope to help us all become better, happier people, because as I said at the beginning, For the Strength of Youth has many of the keys to HAPPINESS in both this life and the next; the First Presidency itself has promised us that keeping these standards will strengthen our testimonies, bless us with the companionship of the Holy Ghost, and help us be happy.

Thank you for your time. I hope that you will decide to join this, because I can’t wait to see the results, and I hope that as many others as possible will too.

~ George

ForTheStrengthOfAll.com – That all might come unto Him

Interesting Observation: Better Late Than Never

You all probably have heard the phrase “Better late than never” at least once in your lifetime; if not, well, it’s better late than never to learn it. Either way, a friend recently said it to me, and I was about to reply “yeah, of course, it’s always better late than never,” when I realized something: “What if it was my execution?” :/

Imagine the executioner coming to your jail cell to fetch you; he unlocks the door, binds your hands, and as he leads  you to the guillotine, he says, with an apologetic look on his face, “I’m really sorry that it has taken so long to get your execution set up, we’re usually not this sloppy; but, you know, better late than never, right?”

~ George

100 Words for 100 Days is finished!

From September 15th to December 23rd I participated in the 100 Words for 100 Days challenge from goteenwriters.blogspot.com. It’s a website meant to help teens write novels, but I didn’t have any book that I wanted to write at the moment so instead I worked on this blog. The rules were that you had to write 100 or more words every day, but you could miss one day a week and one week in the total 100 days.

I am glad to announce that I finished the challenge and did so with 19,063 words written. Now, over the last few months I haven’t posted anywhere near 19,063 words, but there’s a reason for it. If you had to write 100 words each day, which would you do: start a new post and quickly get to 100-300 word, work on a previous post (which involves re-reading it) and probably get to 100-300 words, or publish a post and get maybe 10-20 words in as you edit stuff and clean everything up? Clearly the first and second one, and more often the first than the second. The result is that I have over 30 drafts waiting to be read over, added to, polished, and published.

The contest is over, but I have decided to continue the challenge. However, I have revised the rules a bit; the new rule is that everyday (with one day a week off) I can either write over 100 words, or I can publish a post. For example, I’ve written this post today, getting 278 words in, and tomorrow I’ll review it, polish it, and publish it. Despite probably not getting 100 words in, I’ll still count the day off because I published something. This way hopefully I’ll be able to start making my way through that mountain of drafts that is waiting for me, and you’ll get more content.

Thanks for reading!

~ George

(p.s. I got 49 words out of revising this the next day, and 24 of them are in this sentence. As I said, not very many.)

Interesting Observation: Happy New Year!

A new year has started! There. That’s a pretty interesting observation if you think about it, so the post must be finished. Sign: ~ George. Done.

.

Not really 🙂 As you probably know, it’s a the start of a new year. You can tell because of all the people saying “Happy New Year!” all the time. I’ve said it myself a few times, but I started wondering what we were actually saying when we said “Happy New Year” to people. If you look closely, it isn’t actually a sentence at all, just a noun plus two adjectives. Saying “Happy New Year!” to people is grammatically the same as yelling “Purple Tin Piano!” at them.

Of course, we aren’t yelling “Purple Tin Piano” at them, and of course we mean something more than “adjective adjective noun”. What we omit when we say “Happy New Year” is the two words “Have a”. When we add those words, we get “Have a Happy New Year”, which is a complete sentence. We just drop the verb to make it easier to say. Furthermore, “Have a Happy New Year” is still leaving out a bunch of words. What we actually mean is “I wish that you may be happy throughout the rest of this new year.” No wonder we shortened it.

Anyhow, as if I haven’t said it enough, Happy New Year! (However you want to read it) 🙂

~ George