How to solve your problems … and save the world – Part 2

January 7, 2012 at 10:05 am Leave a comment

Continued from:

Crucial insights in the way

we all lie


Author of “How to Avoid Armageddon”

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We all hate it when people lie to us or aren’t absolutely honest. Isn’t that so? One reason for our resentment towards any kind of falsehood – in others – is that it indicates that we cannot trust or depend on this other person. In family and friends it hurts even more, because we sense that the trust we automatically felt because of our kinship or fraternal ties, has been betrayed and could even be the source of harm to us.

But I think that our aversion to falsehood is probably instinctive. It’s a universal sentiment, like the disgust caused by exposed feces. I’m sorry to draw this unpleasant comparison, but that’s how repugnant lying can be. I think that our disgust with exposed excrement stems, not only from the smell and the messiness, but also from our innate knowledge that uncovered, it can be a source of disease. The smell and appearance exude a warning – watch out this is dangerous for your health! And while lying might not reach our olfactory senses, and although most of us might not be sensitive to its perniciousness when we ourselves lie, we instinctively recognize that something stinks – figuratively – when we are lied to.

Now, to a large extent it is belief that determines our routines and attitudes. Regarding every-day issues, my beliefs are largely based on empirical experience. I’m not talking about religious belief now. I turn on a switch – like I’ve done countless times, and a light comes on, even though I might not know anything about electricity. And I reckon that I can get to my office by 9 o’clock in the morning if I get out of bed early enough so as to catch a bus at 8.20, because I have done this hundreds of times. I acknowledge, truthfully, that I need to be at the bus stop before 8:20, otherwise I might miss the bus and be late for work. My truthfulness to myself is based on an empirical premise. Now, if I lie to myself, suggesting that I can stay in bed a little longer in the morning and that it’s fine if I get to the bus stop a few minutes after 8:20, because of my untruthfulness to myself, I could end up losing my job.

This is a small, very mundane example of the importance of truthfulness on a personal level. Employed as an unbreakable principle for every aspect of our lives, as well as for society as a whole, the practice of truthfulness can give us far more control in our lives, bring us less frustration and stress, and fewer personal problems and invariably ensure more fulfillment. Indeed the practise of truthfulness on a large scale can redeem the world. I’ll talk briefly about this later.

Now, I like to believe that most people are pretty honest most of the time. Don’t you think so? That’s wishful thinking on my part? Maybe! Look, I’ll agree that most people might exaggerate a little from time to time. Yeah, we know that. But under normal circumstances most people will seldom knowingly tell an outright lie. Under normal circumstances. But there are times when the large majority of ordinary folks … might twist the truth a little! For instance, as drivers, if caught not heeding a stop sign, many folks will swear to the policeman that they did indeed stop at the stop sign. Or when criticized or scolded for something, many people often lie about what they did or didn’t do or what they heard or didn’t hear or what they thought they understood.

How often have we ourselves given some kind of cockamamie excuse for coming late to an appointment or for not keeping a promise? I’m not talking about telling a little white lie so as to spare the feelings of someone. 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 were lying.

The thing is that if we … occasionally twist the truth a bit, and even though usually, very little harm might be done directly, fibbing can become a habitual thing. And if we fib about small things we’ll most likely have little problem lying about more serious things. And in any human framework, no matter how large or small, whether it’s a family or a factory or a large company, when the level of truthfulness is kind of shaky, and if there’s more than just a little deceit and lying, then trust and harmony will be undermined, and the prospects of success in whatever is being done, will be diminished.

I reckon that many of you know all this from personal experience. As for myself, I am standing here this evening presuming to know what I’m talking about because of my own personal experience, which includes being both a purveyor of untruthfulness, a lightweight purveyor if you please, and a recipient or target. I admit that in the past I have indulged in a lot of exaggeration; I have fibbed and lied – for many reasons; I have tried to impress people, especially womenfolk, with fib and fantasy – on a scale that makes me embarrassed when I think of it. But today, I think I’m more honest and truthful than I used to be because I realize more fully than ever before the paramount importance of truthfulness. And yet, sometimes, even now I still catch myself about to regurgitate one of my old fibs or even tell a lie. But I usually catch myself in time. At least I hope so. It’s an ongoing challenge to be a fully truthful person.

However, there are great dividends to truthfulness. In itself, being an honest person can have its rewards in the form of self-esteem. Why not? As long as we don’t become self-righteous prigs. And we’ll earn the respect of our friends, neighbors, work associates and family. Also, a spirit of truthfulness in whatever we do, is likely to have positive results. We might not make a lot of money all at once, but in the long run whatever we do will have a better chance of turning out fine.

And there’s a good reason for this. Firstly, we won’t be so prone to kidding ourselves about the prospects of whatever it is that we want to do, or our own ability, or what is needed; we won’t be kidding ourselves about the budget needed, or the risks involved, and a whole lot of other details and issues. For instance, we might have our hearts set on buying a new car or a house with a garden, or opening a business or expanding our business. And it’s wonderful to have aims, ambitions and dreams, and to try and make them come true. But if we’re not completely honest with ourselves about all the details and issues, then instead of a dream coming true, we might find ourselves in a nightmare.

To make the best possible decisions, whenever there is some kind of dilemma, or an ambitious project, what we can do is take all the facts and factors, see them as objectively and honestly as possible. Then, if we have a problem deciding what to do, we can use the old system of making two columns – pro and con. Then give each item a rating according to the scale of likelihood – ranging from definite, probable, possible, unlikely to absolutely no chance. Add to this equation personal feelings about the issue. What does our heart say? Try to assess how much weight this aspect carries in our ultimate decision. Then, even after coming to a final conclusion, it might be helpful to mull over the question for a little while longer – if the issue is not too urgent. Then we will probably have made the best possible decision. And it will have been personal honestly and truthfulness that enabled us to do so.   

Truthfulness, integrity, honesty – these are serious principles. But please bear in mind that abiding faithfully to these principles, doesn’t mean that we have to constantly be absolutely objective about everything; it doesn’t mean that we have to be unmitigatedly cautious all the time, or unimaginative, humorless, inflexible and puritanical. We can still be our true selves. We can still joke if that’s what we like doing, or smile and laugh if we feel that way. We can even tell tall tales – as long people can understand that our stories are not meant to be taken literally, but just for the purpose of amusing others.

By the way, truthfulness won’t solve all our problems, especially if there are serious, incurable illnesses involved, or if we have unsolvable problems with crazy neighbors, or very rebellious children, or a nasty spouse, or overwhelming financial woes. Although truthfulness might help us reconcile ourselves to a difficult situation, or keep us from making things worse, and yes, maybe even find the best way out of our problems. And we might even be able to convey to any adversary of ours, the fact that being straight with each other might help us resolve our differences.

There is an important additional aspect involved in the practise of truthfulness. It has to do with the way we speak. In any discussion or argument, if we shout, we might be heard, but we won’t be heeded. It’s usually best to talk quietly, calmly and politely. If you need to raise your voice to be heard, then raise your voice until you are being listened to, and then revert to a less confrontational tone. By continuing in this way, it is likely that we will be responded to in a similar tone. A modulated decibel level is invariably more conducive to honest discourse. I bet that for many folks this would be a new approach, uh?

To continueClick


Entry filed under: dangeous lies and halftruths, How to avoid Armageddon, In order to survive, Solutions for Palestine. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

How to avoid problems … and save the world – Part 1 How to solve your problems … and save the world – Part 3

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