12 Feb

 “It’s an honest thing, and honest things they last.” (Rise, Josh Rouse)

“Honesty isn’t the best policy.  It’s the only policy.”

“The truth?  You can’t handle the truth.” (A Few Good Men)

So which is it?  Is honesty the best policy?  I distinctly remember times when I have thought that honesty was NOT the best policy.  When I believed that living a pleasant life without confronting ugly truths was best for everyone involved, or at least best for me.  If not best, then definitely safest.   If I wasn’t forced to confront something ugly, then I could maintain that it didn’t really exist.  I don’t think that I can subscribe to that theory anymore.  I think I want the truth. A primrose path of pleasantries is tempting, but it isn’t real, and failing to confront certain realities leads to twisted, artificial relationships that can’t withstand the curve balls that life inevitably throws.

Moreover, it’s disrespectful.  Lying by omission, half-truths, fabrications; they all acknowledge that someone is seeking certain information and you are deliberately withholding that information because technically what you said was true, or someone simply didn’t ask the right question.  Well, that’s not how I wish to live.  I want the truth.  I want it gently, if possible.  But sometimes subtlety is lost on me, and you may need to be a little less gentle to make sure that I am hearing the message.  But one thing is certain – if I ask you a question (or sometimes a series of questions), I want to know the truth so that I can plan accordingly.  To let me rely on something that is untrue or less than accurate when making important decisions is disrespectful and manipulative.

Of course I don’t mean “Do I look fat in this dress?” and “Do you like my hair?”  Those queries aren’t asking for the truth.  They are asking for compliments, and compliments are a must.  No love ever flourished when the answer to the first question is “yes” or the second is “no.”  (True friendship – not to be confused with romantic love or long, affectionate marriages – must sometimes answer with alternative suggestions).  But it isn’t nice to withhold honesty when people are trying to make decisions based on facts.  I love facts.  I work in a world of them.  I aspire to live in accordance with them.  I like for all of us to have the same information available to us so that we can have a discussion that means something real.  So that our accordance is meaningfully arrived-at. 

Sometimes I can’t handle the truth.  Often I dislike the effects of hearing the truth and wish I could go back to the blissful state that was ignorance.  Occasionally it takes me weeks to get over learning the truth.  In some instances, years.  But I have come to the conclusion that honest things have a better chance of lasting than dishonest things.  And I am looking for things that last.  So if any of you are among the few and the proud of whom I have queried and who have responded in truth, I appreciate your letting me know.  Even if the message wasn’t pleasing, artificiality in my real friendships is a thing of the past for me, and that is a truth I can handle.


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