Telling the Truth: Too Many ‘Elephants in the Room?’

<June 17/09>

I suppose anyone who’s been reading this blog has already clued in to the fact that I’m a truth-teller. I can’t tell you why I’m a truth-teller, ‘cause I really haven’t any idea – except that I don’t know any other way to be. It’s the way I’m wired.

There seem to be a whole lot of truths we don’t want to tell in our culture. It starts in our families, when we’re very young & the great roller coaster of life is just getting underway.

Truths we don’t want to tell take in things like “Oops! My family appears to be a great big MESS” to sexual abuse by people we ought to be able to trust, to realizing our parents (gods & goddesses to us when we’re little, by the way) don’t love or affirm us or treat us fairly, to “Daddy/Mommy doesn’t love me” to “Mommy tells a lot of lies” to “Mommy/Daddy seems to love So-&-So better/more than s/he loves me” to “Mommy/Daddy sure isn’t around much!” etc., etc., etc.

But it’s crystal clear to us from a pretty early age that these truths we’ve figured out (& let’s face it, we’re darn smart even when we’re only four years old) are not supposed to be coughed up at the dinner table.

We start on our careers of truth-stuffing pretty darn young, hmm?

It keeps building as we get older, of course. More & more truth gets stuffed & more & more lies get told. It’s probably a miracle any of us can tell the truth at all – & of course, largely we don’t.

Our culture is founded on lies & half-truths.

There are a lot of “elephants in the room” – in our families of origin, with our partners/spouses, in our families, & in our world at large.

The fact that our species is headed for a gigantic “Kerpluie” experience (to put it rather politely) is a pretty closely-guarded secret, for example, & it’s an elephant no one really wants to acknowledge. It is not considered, shall we say, a fit topic for cocktail party conversation.

I think the roots of our loss of truth-telling probably go back to when we moved away from tribal life & into so-called “nuclear” family units (for most of human history, we lived in small social groupings in which we were highly interdependent & had a very strong sense of community).

I don’t mean to suggest life was perfect or smooth or “easy” when we lived communally as gatherers/hunters – but I’m also willing to bet the B.Q. (bullshit quotient)(1) was a whole lot lower back in those days…

Me, I think it’s very, very likely we would not be poised on the edge of “Kerpluie” if we had not made that choice 10,000 years ago to move away from interdependence & community & onto a path involving the worship of technology & patriarchy & a passionate embrace of so-called “progress” – leading us inevitably, it seems, to the mess we now find ourselves in.

But hey! Here we now are, hmm? For good or ill.

What are we to do??

Do we keep tiptoeing around all these damn elephants – or do we start acknowledging their presence?

As a dyed-in-the-wool truth-teller (& a great admirer of truth-telling writers of all description & especially of Anne Lamott & Elizabeth Lesser & Joanna Macy)(2), I’d like to suggest we try out some serious truth-telling…for a change.

At this point, I’m not at all sure that all the truth-telling in the world can save our butts – but I'm pretty sure it will make us all feel a whole lot lighter – & I suspect it will help us feel a whole lot more authentic, too. Authenticity has a very nice ring to it, I always think…(3)

If we’re going to go down as a species – & this seems increasingly possible/probable (I’m not trying to be depressing here, okay? Just honest) – let’s at least do so with our eyes (& minds) open, & keep the BQ to a minimum.

This is still, I hasten to point out, a very, very stunningly beautiful world here, this Earth of ours. And friendship & love & lovemaking & singing & service & the countless beauties of Nature and …oh, lots & lots of things…are still utterly grand & wondrous & wonderful.

This life – all the way along – should always have been more like a party, & less like the joyless dirge too many of us have made of it.

It isn’t too late. Let’s start telling the truth!

And let’s enjoy the party!! And each other…


P.S. I recently attended a Joanna Macy speaking engagement in Toronto. She was awesome… One of the things she said was that telling the truth is like making oxygen. Ah……I needed to hear that! Thank you, thank you, thank you, Joanna Macy…for that, & for so much else…

P.P.S. The truth can be a little scary, of course. That’s one of the reasons we avoid it so strenuously. There are two items on this blog that speak to the topic of our fear & despair – our despair & our fear that we cannot handle telling & living with the truth. They’re called “Despair and Empowerment,” & "Despair & Empowerment: The Movie."

(1) A fun term I came up with in my one corporate work environment, where often the BQ was already off the charts by 10 am…

(2) There are tons of other truth-telling writers; far too many to try & list here. Feel free to check out 2 lists of recommended reading under the ‘Recommended’ tab on this blog.

(3) It seems only fair that I acknowledge the Landmark Forum here for the many lessons I took from my own LMF weekend. Authenticity is a key concept in the LMF experience. You can see more about my LMF experience in 2 places on this blog: under the ‘Recommended’ tab, in the item '3 Great Opportunities for Personal Growth' & also one entitled 'Landmark Experience'.