I abhor liars, but is it ever okay to refrain from telling the truth?
I think that there are in fact exceptions to always telling the truth. I used to be brutally honest always, with an emphasis on the brutal. I was not the guy to ask how you looked in a dress you were unsure of or to ask if you had gained weight when you clearly knew you did. I was not the one to ask if that adult acne really was that noticeable or if those ill fitting clothes really did not look that bad.
You asked me a question, I not only told no lie, but I delivered the truth rough, rugged and raw. It was a gift and a curse. To some I was admired for my “refreshing” honesty. To others I was a boar, that took unnecessary joy in hurting the feelings of others. “Damn, you didn’t have to be that honest,” was a theme becoming as common as cops in a donut shop.
I didn’t know how to be any other way. My mother never gave us sensitivity training growing up. Flattery was not her strong suit as a parent, and instilling confidence thru false assertions was definitely not in her parenting handbook. So, sparing people’s feelings was not in my initial repertoire and I had the fake high moral ground of honesty as an excuse for the words.
I do not remember what made me soft as ice cream left outside on a hot summer day. Hurting the feelings of the people you care for is never fun, but being politically correct and sensitive to others has become the job I thought I avoided by refraining from lying in the first place. In truth, it’s a small price to pay, when it was clear that my brutal form of honesty was in many cases doing more harm than good.
So now I try and police my inner first responder. I still consider myself a truth sayer, just minus the brutality of no filter. I am the adopter of “if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.” I have developed selecting hearingitis to questions, usually in attempts to buy avoidance time. “Do I look fat in this?” is always met with a resounding No. “Fat” is of course a subjective opinion and saying no is never a lie based on subjective opinion. An assessment of someone’s talent, when I’m asked, is always delivered with positivity. The old me may have offered, “Are you okay? You sounded like a cat with its tail stuck in a blender.” Me today: “You aren’t there yet. If you are serious about the craft, work on getting vocal training and finding producers who can bring out the best in you.”
I won’t lie. The old way was easier. Straight to the point, and no misunderstandings. Yet, I can acknowledge that easier does not always mean better. The attempts at filtering are not always successful, but I do have a much better track record in general of not hurting feelings. Do I occasionally tell little lies in that pursuit? Yes, guilty as charged, but I justify the public interests. I will never be the person to let my friend go outside looking crazy. I just don’t have to deliver that message with the hurtful prose that I ironically was intending to spare them from somewhere else.
Attempting to live a life of truth is admirable. Yet, I realized that I could not be cruel, even if unintended, bolstered by claims that I was just being “brutally honest”. I still strive for honesty, minus the brutality. If every now and then I slip in a little falsehood to spare someone’s feelings its okay. Honesty is not always about “facts” much of it is subjective and opinions. Sensitivity to others does not make my opinion less honest. It’s just an admission that my honest opinion is really not always sought, when asked.
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