The weeks’ calamities began with an innocent white lie out of fear of confrontation. Not wanting to address the situation, I decided to wait and see…only just to see if it would resolve on its own. Days turned into weeks, a minor discomfort into personal agony, digressing further and farther from the desired outcome.
Does this story sound familiar? We’ve all been there!
Truth is…dishonesty is a slippery slope and according to neuroscience the more we lie the easier it gets. Too often, and increasingly, we are willing to set aside the truth to pacify the moment, avoid confrontation, or protect someone’s feelings.
Because what is true anyway?
Modern society has come to celebrate a relative view of it – you have a truth, I have a truth, who’s to argue, who’s to say? The popular motto “live your truth” reinforces this view. But to what end? What happens when your truth comes into conflict with my truth? We are far too easily offended when another’s view doesn’t conform to our own.
Fixated on personal realism, truth then becomes a will to power. If I claim to have the truth and tell others who then believe my truth, I WIN the day. The more a false statement is heard the truer it begins to sound – this is called the illusory truth effect. And cognitively, the brain starts to give up when discerning truth from lies becomes too difficult. As a result, alternative facts become reality.
Truth is you are born and then you die with the space between amounting to struggle. Truth is…life is suffering. To seek truth is to overcome suffering as best we can; pursuing that which is honorable, just, and pure toward the best possible outcome – not just for me, but for you, for others, and for the world.
We must admit there are a vast amount of things that we know nothing about. Our individual grasp of the truth is limited by our fragmented knowledge. On a personal level, we believe something to be true, if it corresponds to what we observe in the world. Yet our observations are based on a narrow band of personal life experiences. There are truths of science and the known universe, but even these truths are constantly being challenged and tested as new information comes to light.
Truth is the light. It is the end of inquiry; the place where knowledge and beliefs converge. It is revealed through the seeking of it and the only way we can ever hope to glimpse the truth is through a willingness to share honestly and openly without offense.
Truth is elusive, but that does not mean we should abandon it. The only way to reclaim it is to adopt the values of honesty and integrity in our daily lives.
The micro-lies we tell ourselves and others, lead us farther from the truth. The worst thing you can do is lie to someone. Sometimes it’s better to be an asshole than to always sugar coat things.
There’s also danger in being too empathetic! Feeling others’ stressors can intensify the stress. And in that moment of shared stress, we are likely to say or do what’s needed to alleviate it, even if it’s dishonest.
Compassion doesn’t always lead to truth.
But truth opens a space for a deeper understanding and compassion to emerge.
Compassionate truth, a kind radical candor (to care personally, and challenge directly) – at work, at home, in our communities – is needed to get beyond the veneer of polite society and protect us from the assault of deceit.
By courageously listening and sharing honestly, in this space, we have the power to expand one another’s perspectives in order to gain a more complete truth of the situation and discover higher truths together.