You cannot be a compulsive liar or gaslighter and be a “good person.” Why not? Most of what goes into being a “good person” is integrity. Can I trust what you say? Do you say what you mean? Is what you say consistent with what you know to be true? What would the upside have to be for you to be willing to lie to someone’s face? Behind their back? What sort of lies do you believe are okay? Is there a line somewhere in the spectrum from fib or white lie to outright gaslighting, or are all lies wrong? Would you lie to save someone’s life? (I sincerely hope you would, by the way.)

The truth is that most of our elected officials are not “good people.” We don’t escape responsibility, however, because we have allowed them to remain in office long after we discovered that they lie to us only slightly less often than they draw a breath. It goes way beyond politics, however.

If someone you know hides something from you that you are entitled to know about, they are lying to you and therefore not a “good person.” For example, if I rent your garage ostensibly so I can park my car in it but use it as a meth lab instead I have failed the “good person” test. If I put you or people you care about at risk without telling you, I fail the good person test. If I commit crimes against at risk populations (children, the elderly, the infirm) I am not a “good person.”

Why is this important? It’s important because we need people in our lives whom we can depend on, especially in times of vulnerability. Equally importantly, we need to know who among us cannot be trusted at those times. There are people in my professional life who lie to me on a regular basis and think I believe it. Because of the nature of our relationship I can’t tell them they are full of shit, but I also know not to believe what they tell me and would never turn to them in times of crisis.

Some of us are reluctant to admit that someone among us is less than a “good person.” They feel that being honest about the integrity of another is somehow cruel or unfair. The closer the person in question is to them, the more reluctant they become. These are classic enablers, and in refusing to be honest with themselves they make it more likely that they or someone they care about will be their “good person’s” next victim. Think about that for a moment. Enabling people of limited integrity makes you one of them. Is that really the choice you want to make?