August 13

Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I
have no regret, for I am far surer of
what is kind than I am of what is true.

Robert Brault


Today's Meditation:

Those little white lies.  Some will tell us that every single instance when we "bend" the truth is wrong, for the "truth" must always be told.  As we grow older and wiser in life, though, we learn that sometimes the truth itself can be very harmful, and that we may want to watch what we say when we're faced with an opportunity to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, or a version of the truth that may be more helpful and compassionate to others.

Sometimes it can be good to bend the truth to spare someone else's feelings.  When a child brings something that they've drawn to me and asks me if I like it, the answer's going to be "Yes, I do."  Even if I don't like it, what possible positive purpose would I be serving by telling a child the full truth?  If someone wants to start an argument with me and asks me a question, I'm fully within my rights to react to another person's negative intentions with words that may not be completely true.

When we lie for self-gain or in an attempt to deceive maliciously, then we have a problem.  The truth is a very important element in our lives, but is the full truth a non-debatable element of our integrity?  Does every single person on this planet deserve the truth from us in every instance?  And will the words I say contribute to the lives of others in positive or negative ways?  All of these are questions that must be answered when we decide exactly what we're going to tell someone else, and when and how we're going to tell it.

When I was a kid, I tried oil painting.  I loved art.  I did a painting that I was pretty proud of and I showed to to my grandmother, who proceeded to tell me everything that she saw that was wrong with it.  I quit painting immediately, and didn't take it up again until almost twenty years later.  Yes, I was pretty sensitive at that age, but I'll always wonder what she thought she was accomplishing that day.  She might have had good intentions, but the truth that she shared was much more damaging than helpful.

Questions to consider:

Why do some people feel that any sort of "bent" truth is wrong?

How do you define "truth"?

In which circumstances could you see it being more kind to bend the truth than to tell the truth straight as you see it?

For further thought:

There are no whole truths; all truths are half-truths.
It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil.

Alfred North Whitehead


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