Saturday, March 3, 2012

The truth

Truth is a strange thing. It has almost magical powers to make things go away and to bring all kinds of shit raining down on us. See the trouble with truth, as one remarked elseweb, is that while it is the first thing people ask for, it is often the last thing they want to hear. Truth is an uncomfortable thing.

It has the power to make us look at ourselves and our actions. It calls our beliefs into question and it can make us question our sense of self. Now you would think that would be a good thing, a chance for personal growth and improvement even, but as any whistle blower in history can tell you that is not usually the case. It is a sad fact that people don't usually handle the truth very well at all.

People are far more likely to turn on the truth teller, than to examine their behaviour. This response is a shame because unfortunately it doesn't seem to stop there. What usually happens next is their friends start striking defensive postures as well. In the end this response to truth costs friendships and feelings. It causes loss and pain because perhaps worst of all when a truth is told, you can't take it back. It is insidious, worming its way through all barriers and illusions with the ferocity of an avenging angel... the mean, sharp sword wielding kind.

We all have truth tellers amongst our friends and we know what they are like... brutal and often what we perceive as tactless. Oh we try to mitigate their worst excesses... we try to impose social niceties like if they don't ask, don't tell and concepts like people sometimes need to be protected from the truth. But at the end of the day they are amongst our friends because we know somewhere along the line we will need them. They are the human line that stands between us going out in those pants and us choosing not to.

At the end of the day perhaps what should be done is not to ask truth tellers to lie by omission, but to think about what we are projecting into the universe. Don't ask people to not judge, but consider what we are telling people and maybe keep our own council a bit more. And if you think that makes you feel shut down and repressed, imagine what asking a truth teller to not tell so much of the truth feels like.
Why should we ask more of others than we do ourselves?


obedience with grace said...

you said this perfectly. I guess sometimes the truth is a good thing and not so much in other cases.

There is a lot to be said for truth telling. But, prefacing with "are you sure you want truth and honesty?"

You are right...honesty can drive people away. I just hope it makes them think about things.
thanks for this!

Storm said...

I am the truth teller among my friends...Oh, that's right, I haven't got any lol.

I love this post.

Unknown said...

One of the things I enjoy the most about you piece. And one that I hope you enjoy about me.

Anonymous said...

i think people often get confused between truth and opinion - they're not the same thing. i also believe we forget that sometimes truth as we see it, isn't the same as the truth that is, meaning our feelings, experiences, and personal hang-ups get in the way.

i never want someone to be less than honest with me, but i also hope that people understand i can't always support or endorse their opinion or even their truth (much like religion and politics).

i also believe we can speak the truth with compassion. i'm a huge fan of tough love but it is still love. i think that often gets lost because people spend so much time defending their truth that they forget to embrace the person.

Master's piece said...

While one is the first to say that truth is all about perspective, usually the individuals, one would be loath to expect someone to sugar coat it or only tell part of it. Why should one party be allowed to blab away to their hearts content and the other one not?
But then one is of the opinion that you should be careful what you ask for, and responsible for what you put out there. Frankly one is still smarting over the 6' blonde thing :(