May 22


Today's Quotation:

To tell a lie in cowardice, to tell a lie for gain, or to avoid deserved punishment-- are all the blackest of black lies.  On the other hand, to teach one to try one's best to avoid the truth-- even to press it when necessary toward the outer edge of the rainbow-- for a reason of kindness, or of mercy, is far closer to the heart of truth than to repeat something accurately and mercilessly that will cruelly hurt the feelings of someone.

Emily Post

Today's Meditation:

"A lie is a lie," we're taught.  "The truth is always the best."  Because of these misguided teachings, we often find ourselves in a huge ethical dilemma when we don't feel that the complete truth is going to be helpful--how can we "lie" to someone, especially someone who's dear to us?  The people who think that everyone has to know the complete truth all the time tend to act in cruelty at times.

If a friend shows me a story that he or she has written and I can't stand it, do I hand it back and say that I hate it?  No, I don't, even though that might be the full truth.  I'll look for some constructive comments to make, and I'll tell my friend that it's not my kind of story.  I have to ask myself what purpose it would serve to tell the full truth, and the answer usually is "none."  As a teacher, I find myself in situations in which parents are asking for a bit more information than seems appropriate.  Telling them that their son or daughter seems to be struggling a bit may lead to awful consequences for the son or daughter, so it's usually better to say that the student is trying hard and doing his or her best, and keep working with them.

I don't like to lie.  I hold the truth in very high regard.  But sometimes, simply saying "I don't know" when I really do know saves pain and heartache for many people, while being legalistic about the truth would lead to much more stress, aggravation, and even anger than a situation calls for.

We have to make decisions all of our lives, and we have to trust ourselves when we do so.  Truth is not a black-and-white issue, no matter how hard some people try to convince us that it is.  Deciding when to hold back some truth or to tell the whole truth is a part of life that we all must face, and we have to do so by examining the possible consequences of our actions.

Questions to ponder:

1.  Think of a time when you told the whole truth and it had very negative consequences.  Was it worth doing so?

2.  Have you ever hurt someone badly because you felt bound to tell the truth?  Did that person need to be hurt?

3.  How can avoiding the whole truth be a positive thing?

For further thought:

Prudent is the one who can keep silent that part of truth which may be untimely, and by not speaking it, does not spoil the truth of what he or she said.

Pope John XXIII

more thoughts and ideas on truth



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