Recently an article was published in the NewYork Times which highlighted studies that sought to show that lying is a sign of intelligence in children. While the connection between the intelligence of a child and its ability to lie may seem to hold some weight; in reality the link between the two is simply false. Children are not smart because they lie, rather children that have a higher intelligence may be able to deceive their way out of trouble. Therefore, lying is not a major factor in the intelligence of the child, but is actually a side effect of an increased intelligence, since we as humans naturally have a habit of protecting ourselves from negative outcomes.
However, the bigger issue here is not whether intelligence and lying are linked, rather the ridiculous conclusion that one should celebrate if their child is caught lying as it is reflective of their ‘cleverness’.
“We should also remember that lying is universally declared as being an immoral act. Not only does it create mistrust in society but it also fosters a world of selfishness as each individual seeks to further his own mission without regard for others.”
What kind of future will we be creating for ourselves if our future generations are brought up being told that lying and deceit, as opposed to intelligence employed solely for the good of others, is something to be applauded?
The fabrication of truth is dangerous, and its consequences are all too evident in the rise of anti-immigrant, anti-refugee and anti-Islamic groups amongst some of the isolated sections of society. Sadly, this toxic reaction often leads to racial attacks and even murder. Lying is a dangerous tool and it can be easily abused and therefore must be cut from the root. How can we believe that Hitler, who lied to an entire nation was more intelligent than Einstein- one of the great scientists of this age? We should therefore, not only reject such studies that seek to show that lying yields something positive, but we should also educate our children about the benefits associated to honesty.
The article also mentioned that “lying is normal”, though we can say that it is common but it does not mean it should be promoted or celebrated. Fighting is also a natural response to when somebody is challenged or threatened in a heated situation. However, it is ridiculous to any wise parent to encourage their child to solve problems or look for differences in opinions through violence.
Moreover, just because the same parts of the brain are linked with lying and intelligence, it does not mean that one is the result of the other, and it most certainly does not mean that it should be encouraged, especially in children.
The Holy Quran likens lying to committing shirk (associating partners with God) as one does not rely on God and instead places his trust in deceit. Islam places such emphasis on truth and honesty that Muslims are told ‘O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. (4:136) On the one hand you have children being applauded for lying as it shows their intelligence, on the other hand children are being taught that one must always stand firm upon honesty though one may have to bear witness against one’s own self. It is clear which option is better for the upbringing of children so that they become moral citizens of society.
There is no doubt that the moral condition of mankind is deteriorating day by day – the morals that were once prevalent in society are slowly beginning to fade. This begs the question: should we not then try to instil good habits into our future generations?
By Mazhar Chaudhry – Editor Media Tahir Magazine