Friday, October 15, 2010

Truth Welcome Here

As I walked into my favorite coffee shop today, my eyes fell upon a sign that is common in many establishments.

It said “Welcome here” and showed symbols of all of the primary credit cards that have become commonly known around the world.

If we as a species hung a “Welcome here” sign welcoming visitors to Earth, what types of things would we say are welcome?

Would truth be one of them?

We live in a world where we claim to cherish truth as a primary value but often it seems that it is only a primary value when it is convenient; when being truthful doesn’t conflict with some other intention or need.

Many people laugh at the conundrum of some areas where truthfulness is challenged – the classic “do these pants make me look *whatever*” where we accept that either a “yes” or a “no” puts us in a compromised position.

However, it seems more and more these days that truth, especially when it comes to realities that may be painful to accept, are viewed as pessimism. In these situations, unless we can spin something into a positive light, we often feel like we are better off not saying anything at all for fear of being criticized as not being a positive person or being afraid (as politicians think) that people wouldn’t be able to handle the truth.

“Stuff” that needs to be addressed doesn’t fix itself in the meantime.

I was talking to someone about the amazing rescue of the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped for more than 60 days and remarked that over the same period, 1.6 million children under the age of 5 died from tainted water around the world and this didn’t even make the press.

They were quite offended by this, claiming that the rescue was a great triumph of humanity while there is nothing that can be done to save the children and so to mention such a thing was incredibly pessimistic.

The truth is that the Chilean rescue was something we could watch on TV, we could pray or hope for their rescue and sit back comfortable in the knowledge that we weren’t directly responsible for their plight or their rescue.  We could just enjoy the show.

As for the children who die around the world from tainted water, the truth is that their story could have a better ending, if we had the will to fix it. 

And that’s the great trouble with truth, whether it be on a political level, a corporate level, a societal level, an ecological level, etc.

It has this nasty way of reminding us of our responsibilities to ourselves, to others and to the planet – of reminding us that there are still some things that need fixing in this world and that WE own the problem and the solution.

A former client of mine and a wonderful human being sent me a note the other day where he used an expression that really struck me.  He said he was a “tactical pessimist and a strategic optimist”. I refer to this as a realist with an optimistic outlook – people who acknowledge that while significant challenges exist, our potential to overcome them is even greater.

There will always be challenges – in business, in government, in relationships, in our health and in the world at large.  The best way to tackle them is to acknowledge they are there.

When we acknowledge they are there, we have an opportunity to collaborate towards proactive solutions.

Being truthful to ourselves and others is often painful.

When we choose to not be truthful, we know that the truth always comes out eventually.

When it comes out on our own terms, it is often much less painful than if allowed to eventually make its way to the surface.

Easier said than done … but an important goal to strive towards nonetheless.

To be truthful, our world is counting on it.

Can it count on you?

In service and servanthood,


To see my Musings-in-a-Minute version of “Truth Welcome Here”, please click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment