Tina Moore

Creator / Founder / Author, the40by40

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Do you believe that the truth will set you free? (Even if telling the truth may hurt another person(s)?

I'm curious to know what people think about telling the truth at all times...I think we are all guilty to some extent of telling 'harmless lies' about whether you like someone's cooking, hairdo or boyfriend. Or even the simple question, "how are you today? responding with "I'm good!" when in reality you feel sad, lonely or frustrated. But that's not the answer the grocery clerk is really looking for is it? So does the truth set you free or does it make life more complicated? All thoughts, insights and experiences are greatly appreciated and respected. Thank you!

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    Nov 8 2011: not guaranteed to set you free indeed might get you locked up.
    Try being true to yourself.
  • Nov 8 2011: I do not advocate lying, but there is a third option. You can either remain silent or choose not to say hurtful truths.

    There are times when nothing but the simple plain truth will do. However, there are instances where I am asked a question where there is no good answer "does this dress make me look fatter than that dress?" Leading questions like that have no good answer. In these instances, I either avoid answering the question, or blatantly change the subject " Hey, how about those Blue Jays!" Usually this gets me out of the situation. However, if I am pressed, it is the blatant truth.

    People tend to take the path of least resistance. Simple conversational lies such as "I am fine" from a grocery clerk is a way to keep the customer happy, which he cares more about than the actual well-being of the customer (usually). Also, an insecure loved one might have the misguided belief that if i say only happy things it will be nicer for my loved one, or they won't hate me. However, in a relationship both parties deserve honesty, because the penalty of dishonesty at any level is mistrust, which can be a real risk to the relationship. Hopefully, the relationship is strong enough to handle blatant honesty. This would permit genuine caring and helping each other when one person is not "doing well" or "feeling fine".
  • Dec 7 2011: @David
    "...to have their own beliefs questioned."
    I don't really know if this is an issue. Do any of us have the right to an unquestioned delusion?
    I think the bigger answer is to be there for them in a real supportive moral way (e.g. "friend"). That should also help in case they have trouble dealing with a hard truth.

    "...does the listener really want to hear...?"
    This is a good side-question. Maybe it seems there is something much more important on there mind - so which question should you answer? I'd say to answer the question that you actually think is bothering them.

    "...does the listener really want to hear what you believe is true?"
    If they asked me, they're probably gonna get my reply. If they didn't want that answer, we'll take it from there.

    Sorry I couldn't give you a + Nor could I reply to you, or edit my comment. (IDKY, I've not received any notice of running out of the weekly alotment). (Nor could I give the question a "Great Conversation" + ) (Oh well, I feel lucky to be able to 'submit' this time.)

    As for crushing a child's fantasy, maybe we should be raising them to see the wonder & awe inside themselves, instead of these quick-fixes that will inevitibly turn to ash!
  • Dec 7 2011: As for liking someone's "cooking, hairdo or boyfriend," I think it's more of a pre-set condition of how we approach life: are we known to be the kind of person who can look straight past "bad cooking, hairdoos or boyfriends," and deal with the things that matter more - with integrity & courage?!

    "how am I today?" an even better question!!!! How do I handle my own shortcomings? Am I courageous with my own inadequacies & human frailties, or do I try to hide them from you?? If I try to hide, you're going to think that you aren't *really* valuable to me in your faults - that you're only valuable within my own savior complex.

    Good point about the grocery clerk. Maybe there is a better question in those circumstances; instead of trying to get too close too soon. Is that just an Americanish false-intimacy?

    "...your truth is your instinct..." I like that. I might actually love that!

    I'd say, Yes, the truth will set you free, but it's a poor substitute for integrity.
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    Nov 29 2011: I think lying about small things is found everywhere. Although i try to be frank with my friends. For example looks; that is one of biggest deals for women :) But I try to smooth it, making it not their fault and not being too serious. Who better to tell you that you don't look your best than your friends? I think truth is best, but always try to wrap is up in some jokes and advices, but always keep in mind with no to appear as you are criticizing and that you above them. Like: you had the same or similar problem and this is how you solved it.
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    Nov 29 2011: Telling a lie has a way of putting one in shackles. There are two alternatives to telling lies: 1) Be Quiet. and 2) Tell the truth.
    Remember though, not to confuse expressing an opinion with telling the truth!
  • Nov 10 2011: I believe that knowing the truth will set ME free. The more difficult question is whether speaking the truth to someone else will set THEM free.
    If the truth in question is personal information about yourself ("my life totally sucks"), there may be no value in expressing it; if the truth in question is a response to a personal question about someone else, kindness may be more important than truth.
    But if the question is non-personal, I think that whether or not we should speak the truth depends on three things: how universal is the truth; how judgmental is the truth; and how willing is the questioner is to have their own beliefs questioned.
    The first focuses on whether my truth is objective, subjective, or belief-based (the moon is not made of green cheese, I don't like green cheese, or God created green cheese). The second deals with bias and opinion (only idiots believe that God created anything, much less green cheese). Lastly, the third evaluates the potential impact of the truth; i.e., does the listener really want to hear what you believe is true? (does it crush a child's fantasy about a green cheese moon). This is a judgement call hopefully informed by prior dealings with that person.
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      Nov 11 2011: Hi David, thanks for your response...I find your answer intriguing because of your first statement:
      "I believe that knowing the truth will set ME free"....so if that's the case, would you want someone to tell you the truth even if it was difficult?

      Based on my past and the things I've been through, I would have appreciated the honesty...would I have listened to it? Well, that is an entirely different question...in my 20's probably not...after that, I'd hope so!
      • Nov 11 2011: I do appreciate hearing the truth, even though it can hurt -- or be hurtful. I'm big on knowing myself.
        Having said that, I know that I am often guilty of believing that I'm "right" -- and therefor sometimes don't credit criticism or perceived criticism received from others. But I do try hard to hear it so that I can question my own assumptions and biases.
        Personally, I know that I was almost always right when I was in my 20s. Now in my 50s -- not so much. 8^)
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          Nov 14 2011: Great answer, thanks David! :))
  • Nov 8 2011: Difficult question as truth itself is a double edge sword, and varies in perception and moral fiber. But in general truth will NOT set you free, it will get you in the dog house, and have you harassed by police, neighbors and acquaintances. Unless is a dire situation, it's always a safe bet to go with the flow. Telling someone that you're frustrated, angry or sad does not help your situation, but rather generate some form of pity. Pity is something that no one likes and would love to avoid.
    However for the cooking bit, I think 'white lies' are essential followed by positive reinforcement with tweeks. i.e. The food was delicious, but I would have loved it more if the chicken wasn't so well done :P.
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    Nov 8 2011: Such interesting, awesome answers....thank you all for joining this conversation!

    Do you believe your truth is your instinct? If so, then if you follow your instinct should you not be ok? Will this not be in the best interest of you and others because it is from a greater understanding or higher wisdom? (NOT fear or ego)...so it comes from a quiet place, not from a reactional, emotional or logical place...

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    Nov 8 2011: I think many truthes set us free. Ignorance is seldom truly blissful. I believe that while reality is sometimes the pits it is the only safe place to dwell.However, truth can be used as a weapon and I warned my kids against using truth this way. For example, what right does anyone have to tell a child that they are adopted if they do not know? What right do we have to tell someone else's secret such as sexual orientation? What good could come of it?
    • Nov 8 2011: Hi Debra I agree with what you have said thou I have a question.

      What woudl you say if the adopted child asks you whether he/she is adopted? Would you tell the truth?
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        Nov 8 2011: This is a great question. I personally would tell the child (with a comforting smile and looking them directly in the eye) that the people who could answer that question for sure are their mom and dad. I would tell them that almost everyone wonders about that at sometime in their lives and then I would ask why they were wondering about it now. (Then I would make a beeline to the parent and tell them that the child's sense of identity is at risk and relate the exchange.) Having said this, I do not believe that people should withhold the truth of another person's true identity but respect a parent's understanding of their individual child or circumstance.

        How do you feel about this approach?

        One area where I really really resent the withholding of information is when an adult is sick. I think no one should be able to withhold a diagnosis or a prognosis from a patient. Many people do it thinking that they are being kind but that they are actually robbing the patient of self control and choice.
        • Nov 9 2011: I think your approach is very good one and it should work in most situations. Foster parents have a difficult task of raising foster child and dealing with the child's sense of identity at the same time. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

          I wonder if at certain age the right of a child to know overrides the wishes of the parents but there is probably no obvious answer to this.

          You are also right about withholding information from adult patients. cheers
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        Nov 9 2011: Here is one truth: good foster parents are some of our societies' unsung heroes.

        Cheers and best wishes to you too!
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    Nov 8 2011: Seek those with whom one can be free to speak the truth. Yes, then one is set free . . . so to speak.
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    Nov 8 2011: Yes I do believe to leave nothing in the dark.
    But that doesn't mean you have to hurt anyone.
    If it's your opinion you give that is never the truth, if it's your feeling than it is.
    Sometimes it takes tact or time but ultimately it has to be made clear.
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    Nov 8 2011: "The truth will set you free." I believe that this more means that truth is self evident. It doesn't require belief or credibility. Not at all do I mean that all things which appear self evident are certainly true, but just that in the face of truth there can be no doubt.

    Thus Jesus is quoted as referring to truth as a sword, in this same context.
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    Nov 7 2011: I think the real question is: How should I act or answer so that I am liked? Most of us want to be liked. To achieve this we don't give the honest long answer. We simply say, "I'm good." or "I love your cooking." Then we get on to the next question which is "What do you do?" The best answer I have come up with for that is: I can do anything but the impossible will take me a little longer." LOL
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    Nov 7 2011: In most cases. Perhaps the indicator can be found by the truth teller asking herself if all parties will be set free by hearing the truth; which leads to what kind of freedom are we talking about? Some freedom is encased in bondage, particularly as it relates to emotional pain. It's so easy to say everyone is better off with hearing the truth, but I'm not so sure that's true. If it's a painful truth that does not serve, we should be microscopically honest in asking ourselves what our motive for telling the truth is. Does it serve us or them? Or both?

    On a less serious note, a rundown of your last doctor's visit in response to a passing 'How're ya doin?' is too much information. :) Other than these scenarios, I say yes - the truth will set you free.
  • Nov 7 2011: Truth will set us all free. Too many people think "truth" means negative. It does not. There are infinite positive truths one may choose to focus on, express. Suppose reality is neutral. Seek positive/Find positive.