Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Truth or A Lie? A Quandary!

What would happen if we never told any lies at all, if we answered every question with complete honesty? Would we be able to maintain our relationships?

Our partner asks us if their clothes look attractive... we look and see that the colors they have chosen make their skin look drab and dull. We stop and think... do we tell them the truth? Or do we say something nice so they feel good. We value honesty... but we also value compassion... we have a decision to make. If we tell the truth our partner has the opportunity to change their clothes and look better. We might hurt our partners feelings in the process. If we don't tell the truth we tell a lie and break our promise of honesty. A real quandary exists. What is more important... truth or compassion?

Our boss asks us if we have time available to complete a special project that will earn us the chance for a promotion in our firm. We are up to our eyeballs in alligators and don't even have time for the work load we already have on our desk. Do we tell the truth and turn down the opportunity for possible advancement? Or do we tell a lie and take on the additional work knowing we will have to work nights and weekends without pay to make up the time? Which is more important... truth or advancement?

In each of these situations we have decisions to make regarding events that occur in everyday life. We are often asked for our input by our partner in decisions that may affect their self esteem. In many instances we opt for compassion over truth. We do this because we are interested in enhancing our partner's self worth. We may decide that telling the truth would offer no gain in the relationship, whereas giving a compassionate answer may keep their self esteem intact over an unimportant issue.

When we are asked by our boss to take on additional responsibility we realize that we are being offered an opportunity to show leadership and the capability to handle a more complex workload. Since we are interested in promotions we take on the challenge even though it involves telling our boss a lie. We understand that we must invest the hours to make the decision work to our benefit. We choose the route to advancement over telling the truth.

In both of these instances we may have opted to tell a lie rather than the truth. We have weighed the value of honesty against compassion in one instance and against the chance for promotion in the other. Is it impossible to be completely honest in our day to day lives? Can we maintain our integrity and be compassionate at the same time?

As we learn the art of interacting with others during our formative years we begin a process we will continue over our lifetime of weighing and balancing truth with the need to be compassionate toward others. As we enter the business world and begin our career we learn that honesty must be weighed against our desire for advancement.

Although we long to live by our virtue of integrity, we learn that basic human interactions are complex and cannot survive well in a world built solely on truth. Compassion may require us not disclose certain facts. The need for advancement may overshadow our need to be completely honest. As long as we continue to weigh each decision individually with compassion and the ultimate desire to be as honest as possible we will continue to display compassion and dedication in our daily lives.

There is, of course, inherent danger in telling any lies, no matter how small or insignificant we may think they are at the time. We must never confuse blind ambition with dedication. We must never confuse selfish needs over compassion. So long as we are able to keep our perspective and be mindful of our responsibility to ourselves and others we will remain healthy and balanced in all our relationships.

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