In high school, the jerk teammate caused you to get in his face. You let him know how he affected the team and pulled others down.
As a parent, we watch out kids tell the truth. They see the world and explain it the way they see it. It is pure. Sometimes what they say may hurt, but the cliché is true: Out of the mouths of babes come words of wisdom.
At some stage of life, we lose this purity. It is socialized out of us. If we want to not get the crap beaten out of us, we probably won’t tell the 300-pound gorilla getting out of his car with an angry scowl on his face that he was driving like an idiot and was totally at fault for smashing into your vehicle. Instead, you mince words, choke back the truth, knowing that you have to deal with a situation you’re hoping to survive without a punch to the face.
That car example is but one case of how we don’t tell the full story or hold back the truth for fear. It might be fear of hurting someone’s feelings, or as in the case above, fear for your own safety if you let the truth fly: “Hey, pig face, take some driving lessons next time before you decide to pretend you’re a bumper car driver.” BAM, punch in your face and you’re down on the ground wondering why you said what you did.
We learn from these incidents. What we learn is that it’s not always best to state exactly what you say or how you feel. Think how different the world would be if we did.
In our immediate political climate of high tales, manipulation, deception, lies, half-truths, obfuscations, distortion and denial, what passes for the truth? What would happen if every politician explicitly stated the exact facts on every issue? I’m not sure any person can ever fully pull together all the facts, so as a perfect situation, that will never occur. But what if that was a goal?
Think, for example, if political ads on TV had to contain straight facts and nothing more. You weren’t allowed to use music or images (which manipulate you to feel certain ways). Instead, only verifiable facts (with written footnotes) could be verbalized on the screen. It would be quite boring, of course, but it would force candidates to clearly state their case on issues, and allow us citizens to better see what they plan to do.
I’d love to see Saturday Night Live (SNL) do a skit with the characters saying exactly what they think. If you happen to have seen Woody Allen’s movie “Annie Hall,” there’s a brilliant scene where the two main characters are saying one thing, while their “real thoughts” are projected in writing above their heads. It is funny because Allen captures the truth of what people are often thinking while they’re saying something else.
If SNL pulled it off, or egads, we actually started operating through a truth machine in our daily lives, something would have to give. We’d save the world or it would crumble. People would learn and grow or they’d fight and perish.
Regardless of the outcome, it sure would be interesting to see the results. Just remember to avoid those personal remarks, “My you look good today Sam, except for your dog excrement hair.”