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speaking the truth

June 5, 2009

DSC_0544Rene Magritte painted a series he called “The Lovers”.  While he did not want anyone to dissect the meaning behind his work, one can not help but ask, “what is your reaction to this painting?”.

My first thought was two people not wanting the world to know who they are, like two people in an affair,  but after reflection since they are kissing, are they not being open with each other?

This second reaction is more in tune to us as a human race.  Are we ever totally honest with anyone else?   We each go through the day thinking to ourselves more than we ever share with another person.   Even when our relation with someone else is incredible and in tune with that person do we really tell all?

Many of our conversations are built around what we want from someone else, what we want them to hear, or responding to what they want us to hear.  When we get questions like, “am I too fat?”, or “does this look good on me?”, or as trite as “how are you?”, do we answer truthfully?

Most of us have been taught to be polite and not say anything negative about another person.  The old adage “if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all” rattles around in our brains and keeps us from saying what we are thinking, so we respond with programed answers like “not at all”, “you look great”, or ” I’m fine”.  These types of untruths are for the most part harmless, but they set a pattern that surfaces in times when the truth should not be whitewashed.

When a friend is in an abusive relationshhip (not just physically but emotionally), do we speak up or do we help them make excuses?  When we see a friend not able to be themselves because of who they are with, do we speak up?  When we see someone subtlely undermining another person’s self esteem, do we interject?  When someone close to us does something we don’t like, do we speak up?

Too often our response is stifled as if we believe Jack Nicholson in his role as Col. Jessep in a “Few Good Men” when he responded to Lt Kaffee (Tom Cruise) who said “I want the truth” and he replied “you can’t handle the truth”.  Can we handle the truth?  Would life be better if we all said what we think?  Would the truth set us free?

In his book “Hell”, Henri Barbusse says “What an admirable thing it is for two people to talk frankly together, without the slightest reticence, without a shamefaced, guilty ignorance of what one is sayiing, and to be perfectly straightforward with each other!  It is almost a miracle of radiance, peace, and life.”

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