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Do circumstances determine whether or not we should tell the truth?


tiantian12 8 / 47  
Mar 28, 2009   #1
The most important element in human relationships, whether business or personal, is trust. If you break that trust, the relationship will undoubtedly be damaged. A breach of trust can quickly grow as you tell lie after lie altough you pay great effort to conceal your original deceit. What may happen is that you may be unable to distinguish the truth.

However, telling lies can be justified in some special situations and may even cause dramatic effect to our life. The last leaf, a literary example by the prestigious author O.Henry, can completely distill the essence of "telling lies." In a little district of Washington where was full of dilapidated buildings with moldy smell, Johnsy, the main character, had been seriously infected with the pneumonia and sentenced to have only one month's life. "Twelve, eleven...,two" she lay faintly on the bed and counted the numbers of the leaves remaining on the ivy vine desperately every day. Johnsy insisted that her fate would be like the fallen leaves. As the last leaf fell, she would also leave the world forever. Seeing her best friend had almost lost the faith of life, Sue decided to tell a white lie to cheer her friend up. To Johnsy's surprise, the last leaf that was destined to fall off the tree still hung bravely with its serrated edges tinted with the yellow dissolution and decay despite the beating rain and fierce gusts of wind that had endured through the livelong night. We can know from the book that the last leaf was actually fake because it was painted by Old Berham and was glued to the branch. This was a lie created by Susan and Old Berham. However, it is this lie that made Johnsy retrieve the hope of life, that saved her from the life-threatening disease, that gave her the chance to fulfill her own dream, that changed her entire life in the future.

Telling sometimes can enable people to avoid the grieving experience of recovering, especially for old people who are vulnerable to shock and woe. One of my best friends had experienced the lost of his loving father several years ago, and his family has been trying to hide the secret from their grandparents as it was the will of his father. All of them didn't want grandparents to be immersed in the grief of losing the deeply loved son because they knew clearly how tough it was to go through the process of recovering. Perhaps it is better for the grandparents to have the sense that their son was still working hustling and bustling in a distant country. Concealing lie is like an arduous way to go, a burden on one's one own, but when my best friend saw the smile on their face after "talking" with his father, he totally felt released and worthy to tell the lie. Telling lie isn't immoral under this situation. It gives people infinite hope rather than endless sadness. It offers people strength to live rather than wound to recover.

OP tiantian12 8 / 47  
Mar 28, 2009   #2
Another One about: Is there a value in celebrating certain individuals as heroes?
As the adage goes:"The hero is one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by."

...

I hope the last sentence can be improved in order to conclude the whole passage in a more powerful way~^_^ Thanks in advance!
Gautama 6 / 133  
Mar 28, 2009   #3
So are these two different essays? It might be a better idea to create a separate thread for each of them.

The first paragraphs in both essays need to contain the thesis statement. Answer the question: "Do circumstances determine whether or not we should tell the truth?" or "Is there a value in celebrating certain individuals as heroes" here and provide the basic reasons why you think your answer is so. The first essay does eventually answer the question but in an unorganized way. You have some good examples to back up your statements but you need to establish the main idea for your readers before you give them examples.

As for the second essay, I think it answers the question in a really limited way. You talk about what a hero is and give examples of heroes but you dont tell us why there is or why there isn't value in celebrating certain individuals as heroes until really late in the essay. You barely start to touch on the question in the last sentence of the second paragraph and the begining of the third paragraph but then fall back into a long-winded example of another hero. I got what your thesis was but I think you need to go deeper than what you have. I just don't think your thesis warrants the amount of time spent on examples in your essay. You could probably just cut out the whole first and second paragraphs and the message of your essay would be unaffected.

Stay away from explaining what a hero is. That is not the point of the essay. Also do not talk about examples unless they tie in with an idea you are trying to convey. (There is no idea that ties into the main question of the essay for the example of Lincoln in paragraph two. You say why we celebrate him as a hero but not what value we get out of it.)
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Mar 28, 2009   #4
In your first essay, you need to better outline what circumstances dictate about telling lies. Is it okay to tell lies if no one gets hurt? If it reduces peoples pain? In that case, why shouldn't a husband lie to his wife to hide an affair he is having? That presumably would prevent his wife from getting hurt, since she will only be hurt by his having an affair if she finds out about it. Put another way, is the only reason we tell the truth to maintain our reputations for honesty? Or is there some moral reason why telling the truth is right?

In your second essay, you need more examples, not of heroes, but of people inspired to heroism by the examples of heroes, since that seems to be the main value you find in celebrating heroes. As it stands, you describe inspiring examples of heroes, without ever touching on their influence as heroes, rather than as historical figures. In other words, you talk about what they did themselves, rather than what they inspired others to do.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,335 129  
Mar 28, 2009   #5
Telling lies sometimes can enable people to avoid the grieving experience of recovering, especially for old people who are vulnerable to shock and woe.

This is a fascinating essay! You know, if you read about Kant's moral absolutism compared to Mill's "utilitarianism," you see how deep this argument goes. Some people think that you must stick to principle and never lie, while other people think it is best to seek the greatest good for the greatest number of people (utilitarianism). So, this is a profound issue. For more info about it, Google "Kant", "Mill", and "utilitatianism" and read a few articles.

I see no errors, but revise according to the feedback you got here. Good luck, and congratulations for a well-written essay.
OP tiantian12 8 / 47  
Mar 29, 2009   #6
Gautama, I really appreciate your opinions on my eassy.
How about adding the following words at the end of paragraph one of my first essay?

If you break that trust, the relationship will undoubtedly be damaged. Notwithstanding, there are still exceptions that telling lies can be justified because some lies can let people hold the faith of surviving rather than let them give up their life, while some others can reduce people's great pains of losing their beloved ones. Therefore, it is different circumstances that decide whether we should always stick to the truth or tell lies.
OP tiantian12 8 / 47  
Mar 29, 2009   #7
My revision of the second essay: Is there a value in celebrating certain individuals as heroes?

An English proverb states that "The hero is one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by." Heroes are ordinary people who exceed his contemporaries since they possess the precious qualities that others lack. Their outstanding behavior and actions are the paradigm of success. Always bearing their stories in mind is the most effective way for us to inherit those unique inner qualities and thus transform their precious characters into our own possession. Therefore, it is worth celebrating individuals as heroes.

I've been growing up in a society which embodies the Confucianism. For the past 16 years I have always been taught that standing in the middle is the best principle. However, the story of the renowned president Abraham Lincoln gives me a new perspective that society needs distinctive views so as to make progress. The conflict between black and white lasted for centuries with the white people of society enjoying privilege while the blacks suffered from the pains of slavery. Unlike his contemporaries, Abraham Lincoln stood apart from the rest with his stance to break the shackles of slavery. Many people tried to abolish slavery but it was Lincoln who changed the rules that had prevailed for centuries. Daring to think differently, he reduced racial discrimination and in the end, enjoyed success. Lincoln's spirit of stepping out of comfort zone is particularly applied to individual in this increasingly competitive society and I now understand sometimes it is necessary for us to break through and to be unique, and this may lead us to the path of success.

A lot of people used to think heroes are sages who are far removed from masses and reality. However, celebrating heroes by listening to their stories will indeed enlighten us that heroes are never to be created from nothing but to be built from an ordinary man. Celebrating heroes can inspire us to be the strong man of our own life. The miserable earthquake in China last year has brought a lot of ordinary people to the stage. Having lost beloved relatives and being seriously injured, they still endeavored to help each other to recover from the pain. An 8 year-old little boy named LinHao, with his intelligence and bravery, rescued three of his classmates from the debris at the risk of losing his own life. The characteristic of hero has never faded away as times goes by, but it is that the way the spirit is performed has altered. Through spreading the little boy's story can we come to realize that everyone has the potential to be the heroes of their owns.

In the light of above examples, since celebrating heroes add life to those abstract precious qualities of human beings and motivate us to become our own heroes, it is of great value to pass their stories from generation to generation.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,335 129  
Mar 29, 2009   #8
Heroes are ordinary people who exceed their contemporaries because they possess the precious qualities that others lack.

The second paragraph is excellent! Very well structured, and it makes a meaningful point. Excellent paragraph...

In the light of The above examples show that celebrating heroes adds life to those abstract, precious qualities of humanity into our own lives and motivates us to become our own heroes. For this reason, it is of great value to pass their stories from generation to generation.
OP tiantian12 8 / 47  
Mar 30, 2009   #9
Thank you Kevin! Your encouragement made me feel confident ^_^
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Mar 30, 2009   #10
Your second essay now stays on topic, and is much better. For the first essay, your proposed revision still misses the point. Your original justification for lying isn't wrong, per se -- it's just that it needs to be rooted in a deeper examination of the nature of lying and truth-telling. Kevin gave you a good list of authors you can read to get a sense some of the arguments you could make, but here are some questions you might want to consider to help you see why you need a firmer foundation for your essay:

What would would have happened to Johnsy had she discovered the deception while she was still ill?

Would this discovery have made the lie wrong? If so, how could it ever have been right, given that the potential for discovery was always there?

If I can make money in a business deal by lying to the person I am dealing with, would it be wrong to do so even if I knew, with 100% certainty, that I wouldn't get caught, and that my reputation would be unharmed?

You don't necessarily have to deal with these questions directly in your essay, but your philosophical defense of lying in the first paragraph should be strong enough that an intelligent reader could guess your answers to them.


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