There was a person, and a situation, that left some extended family members appalled, not only because of the persons blatant attempts to unapologetically exploit other people, but to ascribe an innate holiness to the behavior as well. Family members talked among themselves about the person, and not in flattering terms. There had been a running commentary throughout much of the family, but nobody would address the situation with the person; choosing instead to gossip about it amongst themselves, while pretending that nothing was amiss when interacting with that individual.
I addressed the situation, the dishonesty, with some honesty, and some truth. And some of the family members became afraid of me for having spoken so frankly. In my opinion, that in itself is cause for concern.
“In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act.”
- George Orwell
Not to pat myself on the back. That’s not what this is about. I take no pleasure in calling someone out for their disingenuousness. But untruthful people still don’t get it, that honesty is in their own best interest. Others, who are privy to their untoward behavior are so afraid of being thought of as judgmental, or of being shunned, rejected, or excluded, that they will hide behind silence to protect themselves. And they will often disassociate themselves from those who dare to be honest. But they really only protect themselves from their own insecurities, and in the bigger picture they do themselves an enormous injustice, inhibiting their own ability to breathe freely.
In defense of avoidance, people will say that honesty hurts other people, other people’s feelings. In truth, sometimes it does. But in order to accomplish anything in this life we must be willing to risk something. In order to help someone else we must be willing to sacrifice something of ourselves. So if a person is unwilling to risk hurting the feelings of someone who is raising disingenuousness to levels we don’t even want to be around, then the unwilling, and everybody else, will have to live with the behaviors of, and the repercussions from, the one choosing to be so mendacious.
What of the drug abuser or alcoholic whose self-centered behavior damages the lives of his entire family? We wouldn’t want to hurt his feelings? Or the family member who continually lies to those who love him the most? Or the religious people who choose to exploit other people for their own gain? Or the social climbers who want to look good in the eyes of whoever they choose to use to get ahead? Should we be overly concerned with hurting their feelings? Or is it that we wouldn’t want to hurt the feelings of somebody we might want, or need, to remain associated with? Should we just remain silent so as not to disrupt the status quo, so as not to mess with the illusion of bliss while embracing the elephant in the room, and enhancing the level of dishonesty rather than bringing humankind closer to living in the realm of truthfulness. Maybe the question should be “Why would I not want to deal honestly, straightforward if you will, with someone who is less than genuine with me?”
There is no power to be had over someone who has nothing to hide. That person can live forthrightly, and in good conscience. That person is free to be honest.
Some people put no value on honesty. They put value only on whatever it takes to get by, to get ahead, or to make themselves look good. I feel very sad, and very sorry, for those people.
Perhaps you’ve heard it said that ‘A person is only as sick as his secrets’.
Maybe you haven’t. But you have now.
Silence kills . . . . . . . . . eventually.
Yourself, and others.
A little bit at a time,
like infection poisons the blood.
How many times have we refused to respond to an issue someone has created for fear of causing drama, trauma, upset, dislike, disdain or rejection? How many times have people allowed lingering resentments to fester like an ugly wound, only to have the infection take root and become a much greater problem than if it been had addressed properly, honestly, to begin with? Honesty is not only the avoidance of telling lies. It is about the manner in which we live, the manner in which we conduct our lives. It is about the attitudes and innuendos we construct, and the impressions we project for others to define us by. Honesty is a casserole of self-assessment, attitude, belief, and behavior. It’s unfortunate that it gets reduced down to lying, or not lying.
I choose not to live with lies, deceit, or dishonesty, with myself, or with others. And if it hurts somebody’s feelings to address it, or if it isolates or alienates me, so be it.
I can live with that. I mean them no harm. They cannot be hurt by honesty if they embrace honesty as a trusted companion. And I cannot be hurt by them if I’m not afraid of what they think. I do not consider myself to be righteous, self-righteous, or even un-righteous. I am simply doing the best I can with what I know, and with what I have.
And I believe it is better to have one good friend who is honest with me than to have a myriad of friends who are not.
Anything short of honesty is not leading to better.
It may sometimes seem like it might be for the best, but we must ask ourselves,
‘Better for whom’?