Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Side-stepping Slander?

Aware that our dinner conversations are reaching an end, M’lady asks about my views on the people we’ve met over the past ten weeks, the observations I might have. “Tell the truth now,” she winks. Well, as is my bent, I refrain from the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Were I to write it out my ‘truths’ would still be open to misinterpretation. Were I to speak them in confidence, the further removed from the conversation the less precious the intimacy becomes, and eventually, even years from now, words get put into my mouth, such as that, “Richard thinks that...” gets reported. And a great deal of damage can be done. Then too, what ‘truth’ can I, really, truly, presume to tell? I am but human full of impressions gained on the constructs of my own petards. I have no desire to be hoisted.

We have met Alice, Bert, Candy, Danielle, Evan, Frank, Gretta, Hans, Ingrid, Job, Kirsten, Liam, Monica, Neil, Obadiah, Penelope, Quincy, Rick, Sonia, Terry, Ulla, Vern, Winston, Xavier, Yolanda, and Zoe. Which of them dare I explicate from my point of view? What ‘truth’ can I tell? Privately, never mind publicly!

No, rather than reveal specific impressions I am one for generalities. I am one for viewing the world from the multiplicity of lenses provided for me by learned professionals. And then there are my own feelings about the matter too. It matters not that Terry is a professor and Bert is a ditch digger, I preferred the time I spent with Bert; the rapport was more instinctive, the feeling between us was more natural. The one I could easily befriend; the other I could but encounter. And so on. But already I’ve broached a cardinal point of mine; I’ve mentioned their names! A good thing that in this essay neither a pompous Terry nor an authentic Bert truly exists. No, better to stick with generalities. Were it otherwise, a puffed up Terry might be hurt; and to be deflated, in my experience, is certainly not necessarily to change.

My taking time here to review The Johari Window, Kohlberg’s Moral Paradigms, Graves’ Spiral Dynamics, Maslow’s Hierarchy,  Bloom’s Taxonomy, or Jung’s Shadows, etc., is not my intent (whew!) Suffice to say that through such lenses we may perceive the workings of mankind, or not. Without such an education the vast majority of us are more given simply to go with our gut instincts. As Sancho sings of Don Quixote, “I like him; I really like him!” And he little knows why, but he remains loyal. The problem arises for us not so much about the instant ‘liking’, or even during the tests that naturally arise to our ‘always’ liking someone once we ‘get to know them better’, but in what happens to us when we dislike someone, instinctively, or worse, grow to dislike a person as we observe them, or even more-worse yet, our dislike of someone because of what we’ve heard about them. Without ‘thinking tools’, we just ‘feel’.

Compassion would give us 1001 reasons why a person is who she harmfully is; why a grown man is still an immature boy; why a hurt soul is entirely self-absorbed. Compassion will give us excuse for the chatter-box, the slanderer, the drug-abuser, the... and the list goes on. Exercising ‘love’ without attachment will allow us to give care and energy and even time toward another. But to give truth? Now that takes something that I, for one, simply ought not to presume to do; after all, how can I be expected to see the universe from another life’s point of view?

And in my experience, to talk of others is to invite far too many misrepresentations. No, I try to find something absolutely clear and positive to say, if I have to. “I liked his laugh. I thought it kind of her to offer a seat. I liked the way he asked how you were doing.” But if you press me, I might say, “What an interesting person!” Ha! Truth is as truth is seen, and even then, who dares claim truth to be inviolate? Not me! And that's the truth, ha!


  1. Fitting: I wrote a comment here in part to clarify my own thoughts in the matter and as I proof-read it (hit the preview button) itmdisappeared as if to say the comment was unnecessary but the self reflection was critical. Nice.

  2. Thanks Tom! Great to 'hear' your voice again. I've always respected your thoughts. sincerely, R


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