The doctor laughed out loud when we told him what brought us to the hospital. Nine years ago, when my little brother Tony was seven, he swallowed a four centimeter magnet. Earlier that day, he kept asking weird questions, such as “If you have a magnet inside your body, do spoons, scissors and other magnetic materials stick to you?” Thinking his questions were strange, our father asked him, “What, did you swallow a magnet or something?” And, a little afraid, he nodded yes. At that moment, my sister and I laughed so loud that our mother had to make us stop teasing him. Everyone was laughing, except Tony, who started to cry. He had been living with a magnet in his stomach all day. He had finally brought it up at dinner. He was so worried and scared that he couldn’t tell our mother until then.
We went to the emergency room right away. Our mother told my sister and me not to come along to the hospital, but we did anyway. Of course, the doctor’s response was also laughter. In the emergency room, there was a woman who looked very sick. She heard about my brother’s story and laughed to herself for a moment. Then she told my brother that she had also come to the hospital because she too had swallowed a magnet. Then finally, Tony stopped crying. He did not feel so alone. I was really amazed by the woman’s sense of circumstantial judgment. It was very nice of her to tell such a lie to my little brother. Since we knew that the woman’s excuse was also a lie, we couldn’t stop laughing. We had to promise that woman, never to tease him with this magnet story again.
The woman’s story, a lie, made my little brother feel better. We are all taught that lying is a bad thing, but that may not always be true. I believe that sometimes lying is the best policy, like it was with my little brother. To deceive is not always bad because the person being deceived may not even know unless it’s revealed. People believe what they are told, and it sometimes gives them relief.
We all lie once in a while. Sometimes it gets us in trouble and sometimes it is hard to tell when to lie and when not to lie. The problem comes from the uncertainty. But, if I create a proper lie at the proper time and at the proper place, without any malevolence, it could be helpful. The definition of a lie is “to say or write something that you know is not true.” Hearing something that might not be true could be the best thing to someone who is really sick in the hospital and needs some hope. Or, people who had their first concert. When I had my first violin concert, I knew that I was horrible, but it helped me to hear other people say I was good. Telling a white lie can help people feel relief and give them peace.
Lastly, if you have a little brother or a sister who swallows a magnet, or if they have done something very silly, don’t just laugh and tease them, but try to give them relief so that they don’t feel afraid. This I believe: it’s okay to be attracted to lying sometimes, just as metal is attracted to a magnet, and little kids are attracted to silly things.
By Yoo Hae-mi, Editor-in-chief