Archive for January, 2013

The Truth About Honesty

As most of you know, I recently instituted a new honesty policy In my life. At this point, I’ve only been at it for around three weeks, but I’ve already noticed a few things that I’d like to point out. I’m not going to be dishing out deep lessons here, but there’ve been certain things that have happened as a direct result of me being more truthful and open and I thought they were interesting enough for me to write about them. Sort of observations, if you will.

First off, being honest is a lot harder than I thought it would be. If movies or television or books were to be believed, it would be the easiest thing in the world. You’d just say whatever was on your mind, however you really felt, and it would all be good. But that’s some serious bullshit right there. Right off the start, if you’ve got a shred of decency in you, you’re always going to have to balance the truth with the harm it could do to people around you. If everybody told every person they knew how they truly felt about them, nobody would fucking talk to each other. We’d all have six friends, and everybody else would either hate us or not give a single fuck about us at all.

People lie for a reason, keep things to themselves for a reason. I think that reason can fall into three categories: they fear the reaction their truth would bring down on them, they fear the damage their truth could do to somebody else, or they’re trying to influence situations or events to favour themselves by withholding certain information.

Let’s talk about the first reason for a moment. Whether the extent of the backlash is as harsh as they think it will be or not, there are consequences for every action. And the fact of the matter is, when you’re talking about honesty and truth, you’re talking about people. People who think and feel and have fucking minds of their own. There is no way to really know how people are going to react to things. It’s like that saying ‘the truth will set you free’. Will it? Will it really? It might, or it might not. You don’t know. You can’t know. All you’ve got is your imagination, and that’s what made you lie or withhold in the first place.

Let’s say you did something that would undoubtedly piss one of your best friends off. So you lied about it, passed the blame or just tried to pull yourself out of the situation, and he or she bought your lie. For whatever reason, some time down the road, you decide you’re going to come clean. The truth will set you free. If it was a movie or whatever, your friend would forgive you. He or she would understand your position and that would be the end of it. Maybe a little resentment carries over, but that would get resolved near the end of the movie. In real life, yeah, that could happen. Or your friend could punch you in the mouth. Or burn your fucking house down. Or never speak to you again. Or just shrug and not give a fuck.

You can’t know how people are going to react, is what I’m driving at. It’s impossible, unless you develop the ability to read minds. So every time you tell the truth, it’s a crap-shoot. Because you don’t know how people will react, and you don’t even necessarily know that even though you believe what you’re saying is a good thing, that they’ll see it the same way. That’s the issue when you’re dealing with intelligence, man. You’ve got no way of knowing whether or not what you’re saying is going to bring nothing at all, or a goddamn shit storm of legendary proportions. So, use caution when telling the truth, I guess haha.

And that all leads into the bravery/cowardice aspect of truth-telling. It’s unavoidable, really. Being a good guy has always been tried to being honest, and being an evil scumbag always goes hand in hand with lying. That’s in our heads, man. Disney movies, kid’s book, and even stories our parents tell us as kids put that shit in there, and by the time we’re old enough to realize it’s not nearly that black and white, it’s so deeply ingrained it’s almost impossible to get it out.

I don’t think there’s anything inherently good about being honest, or inherently bad about lying. It’s all a judgement call, man. Every time somebody chooses to go one way or the other, they’re making that call based on some kind of internal system of judgement. Now, maybe that system is flawed in some way. That’s not the point. The point is just because somebody lies, it doesn’t mean they were trying to be an asshole or trying to be evil or bad. And just because somebody tells you the truth, it doesn’t mean they’re a good person, or are doing a good thing. They’re doing what they decided is the best thing to do in the situation, at that time. People need to remember that.

The final thing I’ve noted, and probably the most important, actually ties back into one of my earlier points. Just like you can’t know how people are going to react to the truth, you also can’t know if they really want the truth. You can’t know that, because they can’t know that. People can tell you they want the truth, but it’s one of those things where it’s really impossible to make that call without knowing all the factors. They can’t know if they really wanted the truth until it’s already been given to them. Until they know what that truth is, it’s just an abstract concept that can be seen as either desirable to know or not.

That’s part of why I found it so difficult to complete those honesty responses to the people who liked my status a little while back. Yes, they volunteered to hear the truth from me. They wanted to hear it. But what if I’d said something they didn’t like? Would they have still wanted it? I can’t answer that. That’s the point. There’s no way to know.

Either way, once you decide to say something, it’s out there, man. You can’t take it back. You could try, I suppose. You could come up with excuses, try to play it all off as a joke. But I’ve got a little more faith in the basic ability to see through bullshit most people seem to have. They will see through your lies and shit will be so much worse. That’s where the cowardice comes in for me. If you say something, whether you regret it or not, whether you want to take it back or not, you stick by it. If you thought it was important enough to say in the first place, you don’t back away from it. Don’t be a little bitch about it, essentially.

I guess the main thing I’m trying to get across with that last point is this: you need to figure out whether you really want the truth. Sometimes, you’re not going to have a choice. People are going to give it to you whether you ask for it or not. I’m going to do that, because I’ve told you all that I will, and I’m not a little bitch.

But I’m the exception, not the rule in this scenario. Most of the time, you’re going to have the opportunity to ask for the truth. You need to take some time right now and figure out whether you want the truth and all the good or bad it could bring with it, or if you’d rather just live and let people figure out for themselves what to tell you.

I made my choice. I’d rather have the truth, in every situation, regardless of how you think it would make me feel. I’m a grown-ass man and I’ll handle whatever people tell me, for better or worse. But not everybody is built like me, and you all should figure out what works for you. Don’t just think about it for ten seconds and say ‘yeah, this or that is the way for me’. Be malleable. Take everything into consideration. Be willing to change your position based on the situation. Accept that neither lying nor honesty are inherently one way or the other.

That’s all I got.

Later.