Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Being Economical with the Truth

We may all be economical with the truth sometimes and that is understandable. Because there is people that we like to keep at a distance of 15 meters, other at 5 meters, and some other at a meter or even closer. There are people that we are comfortable to be around and up close and others that we rather keep at a distance. The way we deal with each kind of person is different according to where they are placed in my example of the meter distance.
So, I understand that we may be economical with the truth with people that we don't trust or know. Nobody will treat a drunken stranger in a pub the same way we treat a close friend when we are talking one on one in peace and tranquillity. Therefore, the way we handle the truth with the stranger in a pub or with a close friend is different. I am not dealing here with people that are strangers or that are beyond the 1 meter comfort zone. I am talking about the relationship we have with people we are close with.
I don't believe in truth economy among close friends or more so among partners/lovers. There is no such thing as a “white lie” that is admissible. No matter how or what we want to call it, it is still a lie. Why would we want to lie to a close friend or partner? What do we fear or what are we trying to avoid? The most common answer is that we are doing so in order to “protect them”. Really? How patronising. Protect them from what? The truth? Now, do we believe that the truth will set us free or not? Because if we do, why do we protect or love ones; friend or partner from it?
It sound to me as an excuse and what we are really protecting is ourself. We are the ones that are not willing to deal with the truth and its consequences therefore we give it a glossy coat that we can live with and say that we are protecting our friend or lover. Bullocks! If we can not be truthful with the people we say we trust and love something is wrong here. More than likely, the wrong is in ourself, regardless of the excuses we may put across to avoid the responsibility of being truthful.

Of course the truth should be handle with the same care we have for friends and loved ones. Being truthful does not mean a licence to be blunt, rude, or brutal. Quite the contrary, the truth must be spoken with kind words and understanding. With empathy.
Suppose your partner asks you if they are a good lover, and you lie, you even fake things in intimacy. Then you come and say that you do so to protect them, not to hurt their self esteem. There is something wrong here and it should be obvious. Any one may have a bad day, anyone may not be the best lover or the best cook, but the truth could be say in a caring loving way. It always can. The problem is that if our partner is a bad lover (or a bad cook) and we tell him/her so, we also have to stretch out our hand and heart and help them become a better one. It takes two to tango. There is commitment (scary word to many) and responsibility that flow from love. Telling the true involves us too. Bingo! That is what we are protecting ourselves from! It is when we want to avoid or dodge this involvement and still live with ourself that we come across with the excuse that we are “protecting” the other. How kind and honest is that. How good we are, how easy has live become. For us. Forging our friendship or love seems to be a small, convenient price to pay.
Now, isn't this building on shaky ground? How strong would the relationship feel to a friend or partner if they know that we tell little white lies to protect them? Or when we just can't be bothered? Most will feel as if standing on quick sand.

This worries me. We know that the truth is often a scarce resource. We all dream with a world where people would be true. It would be such a better place. We would like to know that others will not deceive us, will not lie to us, specially those very close to us. That more than protection if needed, we would appreciate help, commitment, support. That regardless of what the truth may be, our friends and partners will be there, standing by us, being true friends. That is what we want, and we get hurt if friends or partners don't act that way, we don't want to white merciful lies, we are with them because we believe they care enough to be truthful.
I firmly think that society will improve according to the quality of the relationships that are established among people. (and with nature). It is within the quality of relationships where many answers are. We have to work and build these quality relationships. But the panorama looks grim if we endeavour to do this and still maintain that pretending or telling little white lies when it is convenient (for us), is admissible. It isn't.
Buddhism talks about right speech, Jesus said that the truth will set us free. They both knew that the truth can demand from us action and involvement, precisely why we sometimes avoid saying the truth.
Like Michael Jackson sang: “If you wanna make the world
a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make a change.”
Enough said. Now I'm going to look in the mirror.


  1. couoldn´t have said it better myself :)

  2. Right on, DM. Hard to imagine that you hadn't already been looking in the mirror when you were writing this.
    A Dragon Man must require a Big Mirror.


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