Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Call For Honesty

I'd say a good majority of the feedback one receives during his or her life is generally positive. People complimenting each other on their musical tastes, providing encouragement for an upcoming test, professing how great that frisbee throw was. And even in my life most of the things people say to me are quite positive. I like your hair, nice catch, great job today, you guys are top quality, you two are great together, etc. Some of these things are repeatedly mentioned by many different people at varying intervals.

But once in a while I get a negative comment. Someone says something to my face that contradicts what everyone else is saying. (Rarely I will hear about something that was said behind my back, but that's another story.) Either way, if I only took those negative statements to be outliers and discarded them, I would still accept all the positive things as truth and live on in blissful ignorance. But to me, when someone makes a comment that rubs me the wrong way like that, it carries a lot more weight. I'm usually a bit startled at first and don't know how to respond (because I'm not used to it), but the more I think about it the more I realize that I can trust that they were being genuinely honest. If they were lying, then they must hate me and think very lowly of me to say such a thing to my face. I admit that most everyone doesn't hate me like that (I think). I'll accept that these people are my friends and that what they said was the honest truth.

But if that is the truth, then what does that make everything else? It essentially nullifies everything that has been said about or to me up to that point. Now, some things are just a matter of opinion. Like, I don't care that Joe down the hall doesn't like heavy metal/screamo. That's fine. As long as it doesn't affect our relationship, who cares? But when something is more fact than opinion and someone is brutally honest about how it really is, then it makes me wonder if everyone else has been lying to my face all this time.

Once I come to this realization, I start to wish that everyone would be like that. Instead of making things up and haphazardly throwing around meaningless compliments, I wish that people would be open and honest about how they really felt about certain things. No, not certain things--everything. I really appreciate it when someone has the guts to tell me their honest opinion, especially if it isn't easy to hear. Of course, tact is still called for, but it doesn't have to pollute the truth any.

I'm not asking that people stop being positive and start criticizing each other all the time. What I am asking is that they show a little sincerity in the things they say. (I'm just as guilty as anyone else; I don't for a second think I'm above anyone in this matter.) It may open wounds, but it also opens the way to honest conversations, deeper relationships, and practical solutions. Think objectively for a minute: if a student was failing math because he didn't understand the basic rules of algebra, you wouldn't keep telling him that he's doing a great job and then watch him fail over and over again without saying anything. It may not be the most positive thing to do, but he needs to be told that he is failing, where he is failing, and what he can do to fix it. Only then can he grow.

As usual, this post is longer than intended. My main point is this: I think we are called to live honest lives just as much as we are called to be encouraging to others. Encouraging someone with a lie doesn't help them grow. It may for a time, but eventually he will find out the truth, and then what you said carries no weight. Can we live honestly with each other? Can we please have the guts to tell others our true feelings? It's painful sometimes, but I think it's necessary.

1 comment:

John said...

Cool post Dude!

On that note, I HONESTLY think you need to come out of the social closet and put a real profile picture on your Facebook page. It makes you look like you are a real person and not trying to hide from what people think of you (or what you think of how you look!).