On the occasion of accepting his Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983, William Golding took the opportunity to call for common sense and peace.
I have been in many countries and I have found there people examining their own love of life, sense of peril, their own common sense. The one thing they cannot understand is why that same love of life, sense of peril and above all common sense, is not invariably shared among their leaders and rulers.
Then let me use what I suppose is my last minute of worldwide attention to speak not as one of a nation but as one of mankind. I use it to reach all men and women of power. Go back. Step back now. Agreement between you does not need cleverness, elaboration, manoeuvres. It needs common sense, and above all, a daring generosity. Give, give, give!
It would succeed because it would meet with worldwide relief, acclaim and rejoicing: and unborn generations will bless your name.
He makes some excellent points on the human desire to lie in everyday interactions and asks why we do it.
“One reason is fear of reprisal when we’ve done something we shouldn’t. It is not the better part of human nature, but it is human nature to lie to avoid parliament.”
But Levitin then points out the conundrum, also based on natural behaviour.
“But it is also human nature to forgive, especially when we’re given an explanation. In one stufy, people who tried to cut in line were forgiven by others even if their explanation was ridiculous.
In a line for a copy machine, ‘I’m sorry, may I cut in? I need to make copies’ was every bit as effective as ‘I’m sorry, may I cut in? I’m on deadline.”
And if you think forgiveness is only reserved for trivial explanations, then you’d be wrong.
“When doctors at the University of Michigan hospitals started disclosing trheir mistakes to patients openly, malpractice suits were cut in hal. The biggest impediment to resolution had been requiring patients to imagine what their doctors were thinking, and having to sue to find out, rather than just allowing doctors to explain how a mistake happened.”
Nicholas Epley, a professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business writes:
“If being transparent strengthens the social ties that make life worth living and enables others to forgive our shortcomings, why not do it more often?”
Being honest with others is something we all struggle with and, obviously, some white lies are all part of the social glue that prevents tempers flaring and avoids hurting other people, but there’s clearly a case to being more open.