The meaning of truthfulness

June 13, 2011 at 2:44 pm Leave a comment

The meaning of truthfulness

IN A NUTSHELL

By RALPH DOBRIN

Author of “How to Avoid Armageddon”

To order the book click: www.amazon.com   type: how to avoid Armageddon

In just about any dispute or conflict, no matter how large or small, it is usually some form of falsehood or false perception, that got the confrontation started in the first place, and that keeps it simmering and erupting and prevents its resolution. Therefore it’s logical that in order to prevent or resolve disputes and conflicts, as well as most problems, honesty and truthfulness should be the guiding principle for all the parties concerned.

The trouble is that truthfulness, as simple as it might sound, is not really universally understood or practised. In fact, I’d venture to say that very few people anywhere, myself included, adhere fully to the principles of truthfulness. While most people are pretty honest most of the time, just about everyone exaggerates a little now and then. And while, under normal circumstances most people will seldom knowingly tell an outright lie, there are times when the large majority of ordinary folks do … twist the truth a little! For instance, as drivers, if we’re caught speeding or not heeding a stop sign, many of us will lie to the policeman, that we were traveling at far less than the speed limit, or that we did indeed stop at the stop sign. Or when criticized or scolded for something, we often lie about what we heard or didn’t hear or what we thought we understood.

How often have we given some kind of cockamamie excuse for coming late to an appointment or made some fake claim of not feeling well so as to explain why we didn’t keep some promise? I’m not talking about telling a white lie so as to spare another person’s feelings. No, I’m talking about not being truthful, in order to impress someone, or to get out of an embarrassing or costly situation – and not even realizing that we are being untruthful.

I confess that in the past this is what I have done from time to time. And even though I now realize the paramount importance of truthfulness, that old habit is still there and I sometimes catch myself about to regurgitate one of my old fibs, or exaggerate or even tell a lie. But I usually catch myself in time. At least I hope so.

Truthfulness means a lot more than just telling the truth. It also means not expressing half-truths or indulging in selective omission. For instance, if I say that a man stuck a sharp knife into another man’s heart, this in itself might be the truth. But if I purposely omitted to mention that the man with the knife was a great surgeon saving another man’s life on an operating table, clearly I was expressing a half-truth; I was omitting certain vital information and making the scene seem like a murder instead of a life-saving act of mercy. And this is the kind of lie that is so very frequently used by many politicians and world leaders. Especially with regard to the Israel-Arab conflict.

Apart from outright lies, half-truths and gross exaggeration, most of us follow certain tendencies that might lead to faulty or completely false impressions, such as wishful thinking – who doesn’t sometimes indulge in wishful thinking. Or stubbornly clinging to old concepts long after they have been proven to be invalid. And we should be aware how inclined we all are to self-deception and to lying to ourselves through wishful thinking or blinkered, narrow-minded stubbornness.

Among many people, these tendencies are deeply intertwined with ideological and religious – or anti-religious – sentiments and political loyalties. Even the most level-headed, intelligent, learned and honest people often lose their ability to think objectively when considering issues that might have some connection with ideological or political belief. It is largely due to this flaw, that history is so rife with catastrophic decisions made by leaders and backed by misplaced trust of people who should have known better. But in today’s precarious world humanity cannot afford the dubious liberty of blurred thinking. And only through a better understanding of the meaning of truthfulness and practicing it, will we be able solve serious existential challenges and end conflict.

To order “How to avoid Armageddon” click: www.amazon.com  type: how to avoid Armageddon

Advertisements

Entry filed under: Blogroll, dangeous lies and halftruths, How to avoid Armageddon, Solutions for Palestine, Things not mentioned in the press. Tags: , , , , , .

SURVIVAL IN A DANGEROUS PLANET A LOT OF HONEST LIARS

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Categories


%d bloggers like this: