Truthfulness is considered as the principal virtue by everyone. People try to interpret what is truthfulness, but no one denies its primary position as a virtue. To understand what is Truthfulness, let us see why would a person want to tell a lie?
Yesterday my friend wanted to tell a lie to her sister to save her face and avoid some scolding. This, I find, is the most common reason to tell a lie – to cover up a past mistake and escape its consequence. Will a person, who is brave enough to face the logical consequence of all his actions, ever have to tell a lie? I dont think so. Thus, only cowards tell lies as the result of escapism.
How about if I tell a lie to save someone else? In this case, I take the responsibility of the other person. Any sacrifice is good and virtuous. So telling a lie to save someone else and thus taking responsibility of the other person is not bad, as long as I give the rebuke the person myself and thus not spoil the person. Instead of he getting rebuke from others, I scold him myself and tell a lie to save him from others. This is not bad.
How about telling a harmless lie to entertain others? Sometimes a lot of fun is created by some harmless lies. As long as it is not out of malice and cowardice, telling a lie is ok. Being naughty is not bad at all.
Thinking about the various virtues and trying to generalize them leads me to the conviction of the words of Swami Vivekananda: “Strength is virtue; Weakness is vice.” “Strength is life; Weakness is death.”