“One who borrows a cloth does not dance proudly.” – Nigerian proverb
Growing up, we were taught to be honest and to “speak truth” in all situations, wherever we are. It is probably the reason many of us profess and actually insist we want to hear the truth. But what happens in reality when truth is told? So let us imagine a scenario where you are the ‘boss’ and you present an idea to your team. Logically you want feedback, so you boldly ask them for their honest opinions. And a team member being honest, replies that your presentation is illogical and below the standards you always demand from them. How would you handle this honesty?
Too often, too many of us are uncomfortable with unvarnished truth; especially if it is truth that is contrary to the position we hold. This attitude encourages the people around us to be false. It is more like telling them “to bend the truth” and communicate “falsehoods which excite your emotions, regardless of whether they are good or honest.” And the worst part, this attitude is happening on a massive scale, as our world becomes more and more secular, and the right to feel good, supersedes the right to do good. Too many of us are getting addicted to flattery and falseness. And nowhere is this more evident than in our politics and in our workplaces.
It gets more interesting as the bulk of our religious leaders, fail to talk about this degrading attitude that is impairing the progress of our society. Their inaction, more or less encourage the masses to marginalize and even persecute individuals who strive to be honest and express truth. Maybe we take truth for granted because many of us have not really thought through its importance in our lives, but to hate truth is a sign that you are “enslaved to superficial and self-centred relationships; to insecurity and low self-esteem; to an obsession with external appearances; and – worst of all – to the drowning out of that interior silence where we communicate with our God.”
Our inability to handle truth, and our constant strive to surround ourselves with people who only agree with us, not only obscures the light within us; but it prevents us from being creative. It is an attitude that inhibits our appreciation of reality, and ultimately affects the decisions and solutions we put out there. When the people around you only sugar-coat information for you, how can you really formulate and implement programmes and activities that positively benefits the world? History has taught us over and over again that the number factor that leads to the demise of leaders is the sycophancy and hypocrisy they surround themselves with. Interestingly, we keep making the same mistakes.
We may never know why many of us hate truthfulness, because we may never be honest about it. Nevertheless, many scholarly works have concluded that truth exposes our hidden thoughts, compelling us to critically assess ourselves and realise how we visualize ourselves and what we really are, are unlike. The truth enlightens darkness. It is what inspired Henry David Thoreau, the American poet and philosopher to write, “rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. I sat at a table where were rich food and wine in abundance, and obsequious attendance, but sincerity and truth were not; and I went away hungry from the inhospitable board.”
It is no secret that people often reject truth under the notion that “truth is what you make it.” This is so false because we are not ends in ourselves, and thus we cannot be the bulwark of truth. We only know as much as we have learned, and that is even subject to whether what we learned was true in the first place. We do not enjoy being told what we know, what we believe, and how we do what we do is wrong. It threatens our self-esteem, can causes us to want to protect our space. In the process we react negatively. It is the reason for the old cliché is “the truth hurts.” But whether the truth hurts or not, it is what we need to grow and become better individuals.
Regardless of whatever ideals we pursue as a society, whether economic, political or security-related, the dignity of the individual is at risk if we do not encourage truthfulness. Truth is the lowest common denominator for any relationship. Without it, our interactions would be flawed from the start. When our sense of honesty is dulled, we become insulted and desensitised to the needs of the world around us. Our vision narrows to what we can get from every relationship, prompting us to lead a life that is self-centred. This is a negative attitude that inhibits the progress of our humanity. Let us therefore strive to be truthful and to seek the truth about everything before we take any action…
Kodwo Brumpon is an author, a life coach and a philanthropist who inspires individuals, groups and organisations to think and feel that which is true, by helping them to positively respond to that which is beautiful is, whilst nudging them to let goodness govern their actions.
Comments, suggestions and requests should be sent to him at [email protected]