Truth is in the mind of the beholder
I erred in a comment made in a Sept. 16 column entitled, "Time has come to address 'elephant' population problem." I had stated that a man faced prison time for not providing medical treatment for his child. I assumed the man was a Christian Scie...
I erred in a comment made in a Sept. 16 column entitled, "Time has come to address 'elephant' population problem." I had stated that a man faced prison time for not providing medical treatment for his child. I assumed the man was a Christian Scientist from his quoted comments and personal experiences that I have had previously with Christian Science believers. Joe Farkas, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Wisconsin straightened me out - like a true gentleman I might add -- and summarized the issue as follows:
"The Christian Science church does not dictate how its members take care of their health. Christian Scientists typically choose prayer to meet their health needs because they have seen good results. And Christian Scientists have seen good results for more than 140 years. Individuals need to make their own decisions as to what they found to be most effective in their lives. Christian Scientists do not believe it is God's will that there be suffering and pain. It's also not about being a martyr to prove a point."
Since I had unintentionally not told the truth in that article, I thought this might be a good time to write an essay on truth. In the following, intentional truth telling is my guide (at least until I get to the closing humor).
How many times have we heard and/or used the old saying, "The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth." Has that ever been done by anybody for any length of time? I would have said "No", until I recently read an article in, The Week magazine, by a writer who wrote about visiting a psychologist, Brad Blanton, a former Texan, who now lives in Virginia and is the founder of a movement called, Radical Honesty. I hadn't heard of the movement, but it is sizeable. He has sold 125,000 books in 11 languages and has 25 trainers assisting workshops and running practice groups around the country.
Blanton that we should cut out all the filters between our brain and our mouth. If we think something, we should say it. He believes that it is the only way to actually authenticate relationships He suggests that it is the only way to smash through our modern soul deadening alienation. He says that we would be happier people if we just told the truth all the time.
And so I began to wonder - could I do that? Could I tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth all the time? I ask you right now to ask yourself. Even if you've skirted the truth in a number of situations, I assume that just talking to yourself this one time, it could and should be a 100 percent truthful answer. If we can't tell ourselves the truth, this essay is a wasted effort. Are you always truthful? Did you add the last four words to that saying, "So help me God?" No excuses now. This is your task.
How about the old term, "white lies?" We say that we have skirted the truth to protect the person with whom we were talking. Telling the truth in a bald faced fashion at times could negatively impact a happy marriage couldn't it? And so you say to yourself, that you are doing it so as not to hurt your spouse's feelings. How about your boss? Ever used the same excuse that you used to your spouse?
It does pull people up short, but it doesn't take long for them to be handing the same true feelings back. After a somewhat rough start if gets easier and better (according to Blanton).
How about the way that successful politicians keep getting re-elected? They are asked a question and they skirt the substance of the question and give several pieces of information that are usually quite interesting, but they haven't told you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In fact, before you mentally run through their maze of comments, they apologize for having to move on in their busy lives representing you in the legislative body.
How about golfers? I can't ignore them. There are a couple in our 6 a.m. coffee group. Do you believe they even resist offending the truth? Even with a pencil? That becomes an easy way to improve their golf score. A woman, I know, says she doesn't play golf; she has more important things to lie about.
Did you hear about the businessman who said his partner was so careless with the truth that he couldn't believe him even if he told him that he was lying?
Editor's note: In correcting facts around the Christian Science faith, it was inaccurately connect with Scientology. The two are mutually exclusive faiths with differing founders.