Hey guys. Today, I’m having another of my favorite people bring you something to read. She’s Tahirah Abdul-Azeez. I met Tahirah at a writing workshop and she’s one of those friends everyone should have- that makes you think and reflect and want to be better. (Tahirah writes at www.guerillabasement.com and has a blog- avosilver.wordpress.com)
Don’t hurry through, read what she has to say and when you’re done, let me know your own stand on this not-so-straightforward topic. See you at the comment ‘stands’.
Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened.– Winston Churchill
Virtues are important. They balance out all the inescapable moments when your slippery humanity trips you up. When you have that one Kit Kat bar too many or run a red light or cheat on your wife. You need something to feel good about yourself when the reality of all the misdeeds you’re perpetually committing, almost without even really meaning to, assault your senses from nowhere. My anchor, the one virtue I clung to when the waves of my inconstant humanity threatened to engulf me was always honesty. Notice how I said was? Yeah. That delusion is over.
Truth and honesty are both sides of the same coin of transparency. A truth is a fact stripped of sentiment or bias, a 100% objective opinion about usually subjective issues. Honesty is plain openness, no hidden crevices or dark shadows. Everyone knows this, definitions abound in dictionaries and in popular psychology. But what happens is approximation. At times you’re too shocked or tired or lazy to sift through your feelings to extract the nugget of truth. Other times you convince yourself that you’re loyal or noble when you tell an approximated fact, when you round up a lie, elevate it to a level it does not posses. You open your mouth and mean to tell it as it is yet a jumble of grey vague words fall out and you hope to get away with it, hope that no one notices, and sigh with relief when some poor person buys your bullshit.
It was not always like this. There was a time when I told the truth unabashedly. It became a problem. I was the kind of kid that would point at the obese person in the corner and comment. Or answer every question asked with searing detailed epistles. I was regularly called aside when we alighted the car in front of peoples houses or event gatherings and warned thoroughly to avoid the truth, to smile and say nothing. The lectures never took. I talked and talked and revealed truth wantonly. Of course the honeymoon did not last.
Telling the truth, being honest became a punishing unrewarding virtue. It rapidly became not worth it at all to keep pointing out the inconsistencies in behaviour, thought and ideology. No one wants to hear it or be your friend if you can’t shut up for once and act like you didn’t notice something jarringly unfair or false. You get used to it, avoiding pain and alienation becomes the goal and you get good at it. The gleaming fire of truth in your belly dimmed and faded away without you noticing it. You didn’t realise that you were killing something precious in you. Subjugating integrity for conformity, to blend in, to be anonymous.
That is until you go forth into the world and try your hand at relationships. Apparently these things thrive on honesty and communication and all those pipes are rusty from years of improper use and lack of care. When it’s just you and another human being in a room and they’re demanding love from you, a reason to trust you, you can’t be anonymous. You have to tell the truth and you find you’re screwed. You’re no longer used to it, your soul is grey from all the semantics and diplomacy and smart alecky-ness over the years. Everywhere around you being genuinely good has fallen out of favour. Being glossy and slick and clever reigns supreme.Slick billionaires like Tiger Woods, clever politicians and their PR campaigns, everyone is bad with a smart excuse, a great cover, and so unfortunately are you.
Gradually I have recovered that side of me. I don’t say “I dunno” when I do know. I don’t say yes when I mean no, and do what other people want because its easier than insisting on something better, truer. It occurs to me now that there is no more powerful tool, no greater rebellion in a largely dishonest world than pure unvarnished truth. So, take this on advisement, tell a truth today, the world will be a better place for it.