Friday, July 29, 2011

Truth and Honesty

Why do we fear honesty?

We claim we value honesty. We teach our children to be truthful and honest. We even have wise proverbs about truth and honesty: "Honesty is the best policy". As a society - perhaps even as a global one - we say that we want honesty and truth in every aspect of our communication and existence.

And yet time and time again, in our personal and professional lives, we are confronted by evidence that belies these words.

Honesty is hard. Truth is hard. To be honest and truth presumes that I have a level of comfort about myself - that I feel secure enough in who I am and what I am saying that I can weather the fact that someone else will not hear it - and a level of comfort in others - that my relationship with you (the singular you or plural you) is sufficiently that you trust me enough to hear the truth and at least accept it as it is given.

Do we also speak truth and honesty to those who we trust? Of course not. We often have to speak it to those who do not want to hear it, or do not care to contemplate the information. But that is their burden to bear, their failure to confront themselves. Their failure to accept the truth, to accept our honesty, says more about the illusions and masks of their own lives than us.

Are there palatable ways to do it? Of course. Presenting truth or being honest can be as much about how and why and where the truth is presented as it is the truth itself. In fact, the reaction to how it is presented may obscure the truth itself. It's akin to the difference of getting one's attention by touching them on the shoulder or giving them roundhouse punch: both will get their attention, but their response to it may be somewhat different.

Truth is a mirror-bright sword: To those who respect it, it is an object of honor and use. To those who are threatened by it, it is an object of fear.

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