Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Year of Truth-Telling

The news has reverberated from coast to coast—the apparently widespread use of performance enhancing drugs among major-league baseball players. If this does turn out to be true, such activity is hardly a surprise by those on the inner circles of these places. It may not have been talked about openly, but lots and lots of people had to know. Many superstars may have their records sullied because of these revelations. Just for a moment, I wonder how many others took such substances and hoped for superstar status but never made it.

In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with looking for a competitive edge, as long as, of course, such edge is legal. I’ve read some who made a comparison with this illegal substance use and pro-golfer Tiger Wood’s choice to have laser surgery on his eyes, resulting in better-than-normal vision. Writers and pundits who pushed the comparison and suggested the two actions are essentially the same overlooked two factors. First, laser surgery is legal. Second, and far more important, Mr. Woods did not hide the surgery, did not claim he never had it, or in any other way that I’m aware of lived a lie because of it. It’s the living the lie that causes the problems, not wanting to get better and better at our given specialties.

Part of just being human is that live out of a tendency to lie about ourselves. Frankly, we lie a lot about ourselves. We diminish our faults, exaggerate our virtues, and work very, very hard to make sure certain parts of our lives never come to light. Many people have so much guilt because of hidden deeds and unacceptable thoughts that they find themselves bound up by the lies they have told to keep these things hidden away. People who claim to “tell it like it is” generally have eagle eyes where other people’s faults lie or secrets are hidden. They are willing to shout those things to the hilltops but are strangely silent about their own.

I read once that it takes seven additional lies to cover up for the first one. A moment of choosing not to tell the truth then can take on a life of its own, with more and more untruths necessary in order to keep the first lie from being found it. Think of the amount of energy that goes into such actions! We have to remember who we told what to and who we didn’t tell and constantly be on our guard in case we are found out. That’s pretty draining.

I think it would be interesting to make 2008 the year of truth-telling. This becomes the year when we seek to live in such a way that we can quit lying and hiding and covering up. Instead of expending all that energy in keeping a lie afloat, that energy can be used for much more productive things. We could develop a new hobby, relax more fully, have much more fun, discover that we are people worth liking, get a whole new understanding of how much God really does love us, and wake up in the morning with a light heart and a hopeful attitude. Doesn’t that sound nice?

The key to this truth-telling is that we must tell our own truth—not what we think someone else’s truth is. It sounds like a fine point, but everything hinges on this. Real truth telling calls for a deeply integrated life. It’s a life that carefully examines how we ourselves really do want to be treated and then deliberately and intentionally sets out to treat others that way.

For example, if you really think that your ideas and thoughts should be heard with respect and interest by others, then truth telling consists of working very hard to hear and be interested in the ideas and thoughts of others. That’s real truth—not jumping down someone else’s throat when they didn’t do it the way you wanted them to. If you want your time or space or special interest to be honored, then telling the truth about it makes sure that other’s time and space and hobbies are honored. If your truth says that you really do want to the world to dance only to your tune, then practice dancing only to someone else’s tune. You might discover that your truth needs some fine-tuning.

What do you say? Shall we give this a try? Sure beats being found out the hard way about the lies we’ve been telling.

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