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Showing posts with label truth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label truth. Show all posts

Monday, January 1, 2018

Truth is truth regardless of who believes it...

I get the feeling that I have written about this before, but perhaps it isn't a bad thing revisiting it.  Anyway as I have indicated, I am very weary of writing blog posts which could be construed as too political.  I have my political takes and I sometimes express them in other forums and sometimes express them to people in over the phone or in-person discussions, however, I am very wary of expressing in this blog.  Politics has a way of dividing people that in many cases would willing to listen to you otherwise.  This blog has never been meant to be about politics, but instead a searching personal study on aspects of human nature and feelings, including those of addiction, codepedence and the like.  This specific post is meant to be to some extent a push-back on a culture of conventional wisdom and a realization that the truth is out there and it will be what it is regardless of how widely it is embraced or not.   We just have to be brave enough and put down our preconceived notions long enough to accept it, especially when it goes against all that we've been tough.

As a teenager I struggled with my faith.  One part of my struggle was seeing others portray themselves as pious Christians. yet from what I saw, their actions did not match their words/portrayal.  For example, I would hear other teens (and adults) express their faith publicly, but when in smaller groups or around others they'd engage in gossip/speech that differed little behaviorally from the 'secular'.  In other words, instead of setting themselves apart and leading by example, they were followers of 'worldly'.  Also, I was very awkward as a teenager and the Christian faith as I understood (and understand) it encourages us to love our neighbors and to embrace those the 'throwaways', the 'unpopular', the 'forgotten'.   More often than not, I didn't feel that I was accepted by even the "Christians" community.  Since then I've come to the understanding and acceptance that just because you have a faith doesn't mean that you are a) immune to secular influences or b) that you are fully mature in your faith (especially in the teenage years).  I was focused on their failing and how it made me feel.

A funny thing happened on the way to heaven (as I like to say).  I had an epiphany one day--on my road to Damascus.  It came in the form of a simple math equation.  Namely that 1 + 1 = 2, regardless of who does the equation or whether or not the person behaves as if it is.  In other words,

  • If you purchased two items at the dollar store, the cost will be $2.  
    • It doesn't matter if the you give the clerk $3 dollars and walk off thinking you've paid him/her the right amount.  
    • It doesn't matter whether the clerk demands $3 for $2 worth of goods.  Either way the cost is $2.  
  • Likewise, it doesn't matter if others around you who claim to be of your faith live as if they believe the articles of faith.  The faith will be true (or not true) independent of who actually shows fidelity to it.  God existence for example, is not dependent on who accepts it.
  • A bitterly cold day is bitterly cold regardless of how much you wish it were otherwise.
  • And so on...
Some things are just true because they are true.  No amount of wishing or thinking otherwise changes them.  Life is full of shades of grey, but not everything is a shade of grey.  Paradoxically, that is a form of black and white thinking. See: Sometimes black and white (either/or) thinking is good. Avoiding it can be itself black and white thinking.  Obviously in life it is important not to be too rigid in your thinking that you miss the obvious that is outside of your viewpoint.   However, it is just as important to be willing to accept truths and stick to them regardless of how much support you have in expressing or holding them.

So, let's all have civil discussions on issues of the day, but be willing to listen to a point of view that is contrary to yours.  However, if the truth of one of your viewpoints is utterly clear and provable, stick to your guns, do not be bullied into questioning, disowning or disposing of that viewpoint. 

Thoughts for a new year...
-- Rich

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Lies, damn lies,sweet little lies and the policy of truth

I was listening to Depeche Mode: Policy of Truth today.  I'm not sure I totally agree with the message, but it was an interesting take.  There are consequences associated with telling the truth.  Specifically, we live with the consequences of what we reveal, whether it is a truth or a lie.  So, just because you are speaking a truth doesn't mean it needs to be revealed.  As we know some things are better left unspoken.

So, it occurs to me what is lying, what is telling the truth, when is not telling a truth lying--a lie of omission--and when is it just overthinking a situation. I don't claim to have all the answers, but I have some ideas.

Some thoughts on "Lies"
  • Typically people know in their heart when they are being dishonest.  Sometimes it is only to themselves.  Sometimes it is to others.
    • Lies can harm your relationship with others.  
    • Lies typically harm your relationship with yourself (and your Higher Power) as you damage your character and self-respect, even if you are too conceited to realize it.  
      • Lying breeds more lying and being caught up in a destructive cycle.
      • Lying can spiritually destroy us as it effectively separates us from our Higher Power (God) who knows better.
  • A lie can be a lie, even if what is spoken ends up being the truth.
    • If you mistakenly believe what you are saying is a lie and knowingly push it to deceive others, then in your heart you have lied.
    • Even if you tell others a truth and they know its a truth, but they also know that you mistakenly believe what you are saying to be a lie, from how I see it, it has the effect of a lie,  That is, they know that your intent was to deceive them. 
  • If what you are saying is truthful, but you get something wrong, then even if it ends up being not the truth, then it functionally isn't a lie.  It is a mistake.
    • Unfortunately, if your audience doesn't know your intent, they can believe you to be lying.
    • It is important to set a good track record of honesty so that your audience will give you the benefit of the doubt when you make a mistake.
  • In my humble opinion, a little white lie is still a lie--an outfit looks bad but you say it looks good.  Similarly, a socially accepted lie is still a lie such as Easter bunny, tooth fairy, etc.
    • We typically cut people slack with these because usually we know they are trying to do the right thing.
    • We typically cut people slack with these because we don't consider them a 'big deal'.
    • If you have a history of lying, once again, you are less likely to be cut slack on little white or socially accepted lies.
  • Being unrealistic to yourself and others can actually be a lie.  
    • If you know in your heart that their is probably no way you can keep a commitment, even if it isn't a 'true lie' can have the same damaging effect of a lie.
      • At best, you can expect to be considered unreliable.  (not dependable)
      • You may be considered delusional or unrealistic.      (dishonest to self)
      • At worst, you can be considered insincere, if not downright dishonest. (dishonest to others)
    • If you make a commitment to others that you should know you can't keep (grandiosity) it has much the same damaging effect (lie).
      • Once again, unreliable.
      • Once again, delusional/unrealistic.
      • Once again insincere, if not downright dishonest.
      • In a way, though you may know your intentions are decent, that isn't always obvious to others.  That's where your history can help (or hurt) you.

Some thoughts on "Truths"
  • People in their heart also tend to know when they are being truthful.  
    • Being truthful can help your relationship with others as they know that your word means something.
    • Being truthful can help your spiritual life.
      • You don't have to spend negative energy dealing with the consequence of lying--the need to cover for the lies with more lies.
      • You can face your Higher Power (God) in good conscience.  That is, you don't have to worry about the 800lb gorilla in the room in dealing with your HP.
  • Just because something is true, doesn't mean it needs to be spoken.  You have to look under the surface sometimes to determine if it should. Examples...
    • Does it clear the air where it needs to be cleared.  For example, you run into an old 'friend' and talk.    
      • It may be wise just to speak on it just to avoid any appearance of hiding anything.
      • If you speak on it, and your significant other hears about it from a common friend later, they have context.
    • Sometimes expressing a truth is helpful just to let your significant other know you care.  While something may some unimportant to you, sometimes it is nice for them to know that you care and are paying attention.  Such as giving helpful but not controlling advice.
    • Is it extraneous or background noise.  Something that could be distracting to the more important things or conversations in life.  For example, if you don't like an outfit your significant other is packing or wearing, but they like it, unless there is something really wrong with it, expressing your truth could be construed as rude.
  • If you believe something to be true and in good faith act on that truth, it can have the effect of confirming your honesty, even if it ends up not being true.
    • If you can show it mistake and an honest one, you can still come out looking like you had good intentions.
    • If they see that you were trying to be helpful, even if the help is in the wrong direction, people can still observe your desire to be helpful (but perhaps a little mistaken).
    • Your history and the harmlessness of what you believe to true can make the difference on how your mistake is taken.
  • While truthfulness is a good thing, I believe there are times when it can be overdone.  I don't mean lying so much as revealing everything without filter.
    • When it is done for show or to gain support or empathy.
      • I believe revealing should be organic and spiritually sound.
      • It should not be done to show your 'holiness' or 'better than thou'.
      • It should not be done out of a craven need for attention (unless it is a cry for help)
    • When it is done to verbally vomit in the case of a guilty conscience.
      • When making amends, it is not necessarily fair to just dump on the aggrieved party just to clear your conscience, especially if they are not open to it.  In your desire to 'come clean', you can injure another.
      • If it is done to just clear your conscience and not as a step in helping others and/or healing, it can be very selfish.  An analogy is irresponsibly spending money and having someone bail you out, just so you can go back to recklessly spending again.

Lies of Omission vs. Overthinking
  • Most people think a lie of omission to have some or all of the following characteristics:
    • Intention to mislead another by withholding some or all information on a subject matter.
    • It is driven by a fear or 'guilt' in revealing something, even if the subject of  reveal shouldn't be big deal.
    • There are or have been multiple opportunities to reveal the subject matter with little or nothing being said on it. 
      • In other words, it is not forgetfulness.
      • In other words, it is something that should have been eventually revealed but hasn't been.
    • When the subject matter (or something close to it) is brought up, the subject is changed by the person who is omitting. 
    • An example is if you ran into an old flame at the mall and sat down and got a quick bite and talked for 30 minutes, not really thinking too much of it.  If you failed to tell your significant other initially and in subsequent conversations on dating, you failed to mention it, this could be considered a lie of omission.
  • Ultimately a lie of omission is withholding something that you should probably say.  But, like anything you can overthink this too.  Examples:
    • If you ran into a friend of the opposite gender from third grade (that they never developed a relationship with) and completely blanked on mentioning it, there is a good change that it wasn't a lie of omission.
    • If you are fixing something around the house, but fail to mention details about your work on it to your significant other, it's probably not a lie of omission.  Chances are that you probably are just feeling like you are leaving out unimportant details.


In all this discussion, for me the most important factor lying/truth-telling is intent.  If you believe something to be lie and intend to deceive, it really doesn't matter if it is or not.  You've shown your hand.  If you believe something to be true and defend it as if it were, I can overlook if it is false, if it appears to be an honest misunderstanding or mistake.  If you don't want to break your child's imagination or spirit, perhaps not saying what you actually believe on Santa or the Easter Bunny is 'forgivable'.  If you don't want to come across as rude over some small matter to a friend or a loved one, perhaps keeping a thought or 'truth' to yourself isn't a bad thing.  If it is clear that you are hiding something that should be said--even if it just for clarity and shouldn't be a big deal--I'm going to be concerned and possibly annoyed or irate.  If you clearly withholding to mislead me, I will be upset and/or mad.  If it is an unnecessary detail or is obvious case of forgetfulness, then I probably won't think too much of it.  You don't have to reveal all the details of everything in your past or present life.  Just be open with me on the important stuff, don't leave me with the sense that you are tying to hide things (whether or not you should have 'guilt' on them or not), and if you don't feel like talking about something at the moment, but just honest about it.  

All that being said, I've had people in my life who weren't in the best place and couldn't find it in themselves to be open with me.  I understand people have demons and I try not to take it personally.  I'm far from perfect on that score so as long as they eventually 'come around', I can usually find a place for them in my life,  It is when they continue in that mode long after it is time to just talk to me that I find it hard to deal with them.  My Higher Power (God) offers me forgiveness when I have no right to expect it, so who am I to deny to it others.  However, my understanding is He doesn't like to be mocked either.  To me that means that while you can forgive someone who won't 'come around' with you, it is hard to have a relationship with that person.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Knowing what you know and not being afraid to say it.

One of my 'favorite' sayings is that "I don't take any joy in being right".  Usually I say that when I express what I consider to be a hard truth.  That is something I would almost prefer to be proven wrong on.  

I once expressed concern for a friend to a common friend of ours.  I was worried about my friend's struggles and the next day I came to find that she had died not more than a couple hours after I had expressed my concern.  Needless to say that threw me for a loop.  I wasn't trying to be prophetic, but unfortunately, as I like to say, "I saw a disturbance in The Force" regarding her.  Suffice to say I struggled with that prophetic point for a while.  But, I digress.

I think sometimes we have a truth so obvious to us that it is literally imploring us to grasp it.  It could be:
  • Time to trade in or buy another car (as our current car is living on borrowed time).
  • A friend or loved one who used to used to seek you out or be open to talking seems to avoid you at all costs (as if to say they are distancing themselves before dumping you).
  • A loved one suddenly becomes disinterested in everything and starts giving away what some of their prized possessions (as if to say, I may not be around much longer, but I wanted to make sure you get this item).
  • Or one of countless other scenarios.
Usually, truths like that are easy to 'see' even by the most detached observer.  In situations like that you can only miss the truth if you really don't want to accept it.  But, I digress.  Often times, a truth is a bit more subtle and there is a possibility that you could be reading it wrong, but experience has taught you otherwise.  In this case, you have a choice what to do with the truth (as you see it) in terms of expressing it.


So, what do you do?
  1. Risk conflict or even a friendship or relationship by putting it out there?
  2. Say, "Well it's not my problem."--even if you do have a role to play-- "I'm not going to get in the middle of a situation or risk grief for being honest or blunt." and not say anything?
  3. Realize that not everyone is open to the truth and it likely will fall on deaf ears anyway?  That is some things have to be learned the hard way.
  4. Realize that a situation really may not be your business and even though you'd love to help as you see the situation clearly, it really isn't your place to step in.

When we want to 'help', we have to make sure we aren't crossing the line of inappropriate, like in situation 4.   We have to be careful when we do have a role in intervening and giving our input, that we aren't coping out by falsely or incorrectly treating the situation like it is a situation 3 type.  That is to say, we rationalize not intervening by declaring the situation as hopeless ahead of time when it may not be so.  Working a situation in a situation 2 way, may be the cowardly way of handling avoiding saying what you need to.  But, it also might be a quite rationale approach if you've gotten burnt trying to help before.  To be fair though, it is possible that you aren't equipped at given point to face the possibility of blow-back from putting the 'truth' out there.  In this case, for your own safety, you may decide not to intervene and instead effectively take the approach in situation 2.  This leaves us with situation 1.  In some ways, putting the 'truth' out there can be both the most courageous thing you can do AND the most freeing thing you can do as well.  When you see a situation or problem for what it is, it may eat at us until say our peace.

When you realize an important truth about a situation, it is important to recognize the situation or circumstance for what they are.  Doing so effectively can guide you what to do with that truth.  I guess in this life, the important thing to do is be willing to express your truth.  That is to say be brave enough to express the truth about a situation (even if it is a truth to yourself).   The circumstance may not rise to the level of having to express that truth, but at least you will be prepared if and when it is time to express it.

Just some thoughts...

Monday, December 26, 2016

The truth shall set you free

I've been told by a friend that I am a "truth-seeker" and I was once told that a strength of mine is a willingness to listen to the truth even when it is painful.  I feel that the friend who called me that, shares the same attribute.  Perhaps that's why we are good friends.  We at times differ in our exact conclusion--be it political or otherwise.  However, we each share a thirst for bottom line, a thirst for clarity, a thirst for accuracy.  As an aside, I felt my late brother was this way as well and wish he had known him.

For me, I usually "need to know".  When I can't know, I am bothered.  When I have just 'an answer', but my gut tells me it's not the right answer, I am bothered.  When a situation appears to be 'off', but I don't exactly know why, I am bothered.  When I sense someone is being disingenuous with me or humoring me with an answer, I am bothered.   In all these instances, especially in areas of significance, I will continue to process over time until I've come up with what I feel is the closest thing to truth that I can.  


This 'need to know' sounds good in some ways, in some ways:

  • Leads to excellent problem solving/brainstorming skills.
  • Leads to more honest relationships or at least a better understanding of a relationship.
  • Leads to solving issues which are vexing initially.
  • Leads to some situations where the truth provides relief.

In some ways, it is very tiring:

  • Leads to uncomfortable uncertainty when you don't understand or know.
  • Leads to an inability to let go easily or get past a problem.
  • Leads sometimes to focusing too much energy on the trees and missing the forest. 
  • Leads sometimes to recognizing that  the answer is more difficult than originally thought.
  • Leads sometimes to pain & a block when/where the truth is not kind.
  • Leads to sometimes being a killjoy.

When I realize something somewhat profound or a confusion/uncertainty is made clear for me, to me it is the "Spirit" flowing through me.  For some, they may call it intuition or gut feeling.  But whatever you call it, I see it as the "truth flowing through" a person.  I think each of us has a God-given ability to truth detect, but for various reasons we don't use it effectively.

  • Truth can be embarrassing.  This is especially true if we've 'bought' a lie for so long.  Think Nazi Germany where they bought the Hitler's lies until they couldn't anymore.
  • Truth can be painful or shameful.  If we've pumped up ourselves as being a "good person", but have made (and minimized) mistakes, it is easier to keep the lie than to own up to the mistakes.  If we can only avoid the painful/shameful truth, we don't have to face our deficiencies.
  • Truth can be inconvenient.  It is easier to dismiss a problem with a simple narrative or a stereotype than to actually dig in and deal with the problem that recognizing the truth forces us to face up to.  Race relations in this country on all sides is an unfortunate example of this.
  • Truth can have consequences.  Sometimes a relationship can be so broken that facing that means facing the end of the relationship.  Sometimes, owning up to a crime you've committed means facing hard time.  

Ultimately, I think it is healthiest to live a life in which we are honest with ourselves, others and our Higher Power.  That requires the ability to be open to and be willing to accept the truth whatever the cost. However, for me there are a few things to note.
  1. It is okay if we don't have all the answers to everything.  In this life we won't get a chance to know all the answers.  Besides often times while we may not get an answer to a question we have, the pursuit of that answer can lead to the answer to other questions being discovered.   In a quest to study or understand different kinds of bacteria behind viruses he was careless in handling one of his cultures.  He noticed where it grew mold, the bacteria was prevented from spreading and hence the advent of penicillin and other antibiotics.
  2. Sometimes we will find or 'discover' the answers not when we want them, but when we need them.  In other words, we may have not been ready for the truth to be revealed to us just yet. In other words, it is important to be able to accept a time of uncertainty in the meantime. I think sometimes my Higher Power--God--works that way in my life.
  3. If we are willing to face the truth while we may face a time of pain, we can often look back on it at a point in the future and realize it was a necessary step in our growth or healing.
  4. Not everyone is ready to 'hear it like it is or 'face the truth'.  Just because you are ready to face the truth, doesn't mean any or all relevant other parties are.  Wisdom to know when to share 'the truth' is just as important as willingness to.  That doesn't have to mean being dishonest, but instead can be mean being respectful to the needs of others.  

I guess my overall takeaway out of this is to be open to the truth.  Do your best to remove your blocks from it.  Be open to the good and bad that it can bring or reveal.  

Just some thoughts post Christmas.  A time to reflect on the truth and the year that soon will be.

-- Rich

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The truth about cats and dogs

I tend to be too serious at times.  So, for me writing a lighthearted, sarcastic or flaky blog entry is my way of breaking the tension a bit.

I don't know how it occurred, to me.  Where does one every get odd ideas out of nowhere?  One of the great mysteries of life.  Anyway, here is my take on cats and dog.  Enjoy.

  • If you want a furry friend who is a "yes man", get a dog.  If you want a furry friend who tells you the unvarnished truth, get a cat.   
    • For example, a cat will tell you that you are an idiot, but that it likes you anyway.  A dog will tell you how great you are and tell you how much it LOVES and won't judge you.
    • Do you want validation or the truth?
  • Dogs don't care if we know they are codependent.  Cats on the other hand, like to portray themselves as independent.  But, at night where do they end up?  With their favorite person.
  • A dog will go down with the ship.  A cat will wish you well as it abandons you.
  • A dog will harass you if you are sleeping and it is hungry.  A cat on the hand will beat the crap out of you until you feed it.  In other words, if you need a backup alarm, don't feed your cat.
  • A cat will calculate on a daily basis if it needs you.  A dog on the other hand won't bother questioning that idea.
  • A dog will do it's potty business outside and will forget about it immediately after it is finished.  A cat will do it's best to "hide the evidence" after it is finished.
  • A dog will be content to lay out your feet.  A cat on the other hand likes to go to the highest ground just to prove it is the alpha.
  • A dog when it hurts itself will say nothing or yelp.  A cat on the other hand will pretend it isn't hurt and say, "I meant to do that" out of self-respect.  For example, a cat, when it has an epic fail jumping, will act like nothing happened or that it meant to do that.
  • Dog spelled backward is god, but don't act like gods to us.  Cats on the other hand remind us that in ancient Egypt they used to be worshiped as gods.
  • A dog when it wants food, it begs you and follows you around.  A cat on the other hand will direct you to its bowl and demand you fill it, sometimes yelling at you along the way.

If you seek to know about how cats think read this book:  I am Pusheen the Cat.