‘A Truth that’s told with bad intent
Beats all the Lies you can invent.’
William Blake (Auguries of Innocence)
While researching for a magazine article I wrote recently, I came across the above poem by William Blake. For the piece, I wanted the opening lines … about the world in a grain of sand. However, these lines near the end of the work also grabbed my attention. They reminded me that it isn’t always best to ‘say it like it is’.
Intention is all important. Whether in deed or speech.
While I don’t advocate outright lying, I would advise circumspection in the truth you choose to tell. As with Monday Musings Forty-one on Gatekeepers, we need to exercise prudence in all that we say. Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?
The third of those questions is, perhaps, the most pertinent. Is it necessary?
If your intention is to hurt someone, then telling a brutal truth will do far more damage than a lie, no matter how inventive that lie. The truth resonates deep within us. Don’t get me wrong, though; a lie does enough damage too.
I have come across many people who love to say, ‘Just telling it like it is.’ And they feel brash and harsh to be around. Moreover, much of what they profess as truth telling just comes down to spouting their own opinions that grow from their (mis)perceptions.
I spend as little time as possible around people like that. They drag everyone down and are the only perfect person in the room. Whether they realise it or not, their intention is a selfish one. And that kind of attitude usually indicates deeply buried inadequacy, hidden and festering.
That last line bears re-reading. It shows us how important it is not to judge anyone. All of us have things we need to work on/with. All of us need help, not rejection. In the above case, the more rejection, then the further buried the inadequacy, and the louder the ‘telling it like it is’.
Study your intentions. Examine the motivation behind the words that bubble up behind your tongue. Ask again, is it necessary? If it’s not good to say, then remain silent. That proves far better than lying. And, remember, telling the truth gives you a far easier life; you don’t have to remember anything like you do when you make up a lie.
I have come across numerous quotes to the effect that making someone cry by telling the truth is better than making them happy with a lie; what none of them offer is the option of simply saying nothing.
One lie is all it takes for someone to lose faith in you. So, always remain upfront, and if you can’t do that, then don’t say anything.
This all comes down to integrity. To utter the truth with good intentions can only happen when we can be truthful with ourselves. If you can’t be honest within yourself, then you can never be honest with another. Always, you will only have your version of the truth, rather than the truth itself.
The saddest thing with all of this is that the more you lie, then the more you believe your own deceits. They become your reality and your truth. Eventually, your whole life becomes a lie. From such a place, you have no chance of seeing it like it is, never mind telling it like it is.
When seen through clear vision and said with good intentions, then truth or honest silence is the way to go. The truth may hurt for a while, but a lie hurts forever. And, when we get right down to it, truth uttered with bad intent proves no better than the worst of lies. This is because you are not speaking truth, as such, and certainly not living the truth. All of it comes through negative filters, and the person listening to your words will only hear the malice. No truth can come through because you’ve twisted it into something else.
In the wise words of Zen:
‘The most dangerous liars are those who think they are telling the truth.’
If you’ve missed my previous Monday Musings, you can find the links here: https://www.harmonykent.co.uk/category/monday-musings/