Monday, May 17, 2021

Truth gone

Telling the truth that could be delivering bad news, giving a negative performance review/comment, disagreeing and digging heels publicly means risking one’s future/life. Veto someone else’s project and see the reaction. Speak your mind (to your superiors) and you lose your job; if you don’t lose your job you may lose face or a place on the list of fair-haired/blue eyed promotable. Alternately you may remain attached ‘down-in-the-dumps’ or end up getting walked over, trodden-on and beaten-down or sent packing to languish in obscurity or vigilance/crime/police net till you’re finished. The cult of candours, with the quality of being honest and telling the truth, especially about an embarrassing subject, has therefore since gone extinct as dinosaurs. You may find fossil remains only. One way of getting in trouble is to simply ‘speak-up’ or ‘disagree’, as they’re always perceived as a challenge to authority or critical of cherished programmes. Costs of Disagreement (COD) are exorbitantly high. Today people don’t ‘disagree’; they don’t speak the truth. They rear a body language that transmits that they’re not to be treated as someone who ‘speak-up’ or ‘disagree’. Consequently they’re not, therefore, the opponents. Seeming to be failing at getting honest, and afraid of the truth, people assume they need to protect themselves and others from it. Best ideas get communicated through whispers in the hallway meetings that happen after the official meeting because people worry about how the biggies will react if they speak the truth. Truth being bare and naked not coated and straightforward, it invariably sounds crude and unpleasant to the ears. Truth is always hard to accept, most often bitter and unpalatable. Dubbed as the ‘bitter-truth’, people often find themselves in an indecisive state, in a dilemma — to hold it back or to spell it out as it is. It may not be appreciated by everyone but matter-of-factly truth cannot have any additions or subtractions. Even if someone doesn’t like it, it has to be told at times, for it doesn’t show any sympathy or appreciation towards anyone. It shows no consideration and isn’t concerned with the consequences that the listener would have to bear. Perhaps because of the proverbial “say-one-thing-and-do-another”, so often practiced in our social hobnobbing, we verbally emphasize (unbearably sermonize) truth-telling, exaggerate and omit facts and at the same time tell “little white-lies”. Contradictory assumptions/signals about telling the truth engender nothing but dishonesty and hypocrisy. People don’t normally like us to tell them truth, even if it costs them for having been kept in dark to use the opportunity to correct them. They like someone telling them that they like their new haircut when what the latter really think is that it makes them look fat. We come to think of such harmless deception as necessary social graces. While lying has gone deep into our DNA, fabrication has become a die-hard habit that we find ourselves lying when the truth would have been much easier. A common man, who lives in a make-believe world, may not like the truth. He thinks that the truth-speaks are simply dangerous and disastrous; the speakers utter them for entertainment or to hurt or to insult without reason; to put him in trouble; to create problems in community; to create misunderstanding between relations and friends or between anyone and everyone or in the society between individuals and communities to be the cause of constraints and calamities. When it hurts someone or hinders progress in someone’s life, blurting it out could jeopardize someone else’s life. Truth hurts. But it inspires too. People spend too much time calculating the risks that come with being honest – and too little time thinking about the rewards. We forego honesty perhaps because we’re unwilling to accept the consequences. We don’t want to take responsibility for our choices. We’d rather stay with what is familiar and safe than take that risk.