Remember that great scene in “A Few Good Men” when Jack Nicholson vehemently states, “You can’t handle the truth!” I love that. Because we skirt so many truths out of fear, reluctance, discomfort, personal disgust – I could go on.
Does that mean we are dishonest, horrid liars? Absolutely not – in fact, I really like us as a species. For every awful, despicable action that we witness, there is a generous, loving gesture to be seen. We are cool, talented, smart, and have great music. Our hugs can nourish us; our humor evokes hiccups, stomach cramps and a warmth like nothing else.
But are we honest? I mean, really, really honest? When we insist that we are our own worst enemy – um, not sure about that. I think we’re honest with ourselves to the point of disquiet. If it causes us too much agita, we move on to the issues we can handle. Joe Klaas writes, “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off”. We certainly can feel self-anger – I’m just not sure if it’s about the stuff that whispers to you in the dark.
Don’t misunderstand me, please – I’m not the icon for honesty. As a kid, I thought I invented lying – rationalizing (and perhaps to a degree rightly so – or so I believed) that my parents would freak if I came clean. Obviously to a kid, that means you don’t want to get in trouble, and I hated getting in trouble (of course, who does?).
As an adult, some truths are harder to face, and perhaps if the effect of keeping them hidden causes little harm to yourself or others, those defense mechanisms arguably should remain in working order. After all, they’re there for a reason.
But the big ‘but’ to me, is the illusion of all truth all the time. I think that in and of itself is a fallacy. I think we hide from certain truths, deny others and refuse to even consider some. And perhaps the admission of this is the most honest we can be. Personally I think that’s ok.
I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t look deeper, harder and with a more fearless eye. We may learn something about ourselves that really can free us from certain emotional binds that inhibit blood flow. In fact, I think it’s a courageous thing to do. I also think that in reality it is the fear of what we might find that makes us our own worst enemy. Surrounding ourselves with a sycophantic chorus that assures us that our flaws are minor and our assets too numerous too mention – I’m not sure that gives any of us the love, understanding and perspective we deserve.
Where the hell is this all coming from? Certainly the disingenuousness of the news here in the States, the frustration I feel at all the crap that’s circulating and frankly soiling the air I breathe. A little self-reflection, a little candor, a lot of humility and a recognition of the failures in our humanity would be welcome. Whoever you’re for or against is not the issue – what is at issue is the absence of honest self-reflection, for starters. And frankly, if you’re an enemy to yourself, how can you be for anyone? Just sayin’.