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Truth and Lies

I came across a fable recently that seemed to resonate.  It goes like this;

According to a 19th-century legend, the Truth and the Lie meet one day. The Lie says to the Truth: “It’s a marvellous day today”! The Truth looks up to the skies and sighs, for the day was really beautiful. They spend a lot of time together, ultimately arriving beside a well. The Lie tells the Truth: “The water is very nice, let’s take a bath together!”

The Truth, once again suspicious, tests the water and discovers that it indeed is very nice. They undress and start bathing. Suddenly, the Lie comes out of the water, puts on the clothes of the Truth, and runs away. The furious Truth comes out of the well and runs everywhere to find the Lie and to get her clothes back. The World, seeing the Truth naked, turns its gaze away, with contempt and rage.

The poor Truth returns to the well and disappears forever, hiding therein its shame. Since then, the Lie travels around the world, dressed as the Truth, satisfying the needs of society, because, the World, in any case, harbours no wish at all to meet the naked Truth.

Truth and lies make me think of shame and courage.  For truth cannot live without courage and lies are the foundation of shame.

It takes courage to be truthful.  It involves acknowledging that you feel fear, vulnerability, uncertainty and that you are willing to sit with that emotional exposure in order to have courage, so that you can have truth. 

Shame, the foundation of lies, is the master emotion.  Our egos are willing to do just about anything to avoid shame.  We are all afraid to talk about shame in fact, often just the word makes us uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, the less we talk about shame the more control it has over our lives.  The decisions we make, in order to avoid acknowledging shame, go on to define who we become in the world. 

  • Shame is raging at the kids after a hard day at work.
  • Shame is covering up a mistake and getting caught
  • Shame is hiding depression and/or an addiction
  • Shame is feeling unworthy of attention and love or connection and belonging

As the fable suggests,  society harbours no wish at all to meet the naked truth – for truth can be uncomfortable, ugly and raw. 

Truth often brings vulnerability, fear, uncertainty and yes, sometimes truth can bring condemnation and consequences. 

But a lie?  a lie brings shame, the master emotion.  The emotion that erodes and corrupts the very foundation of who we are and what we contribute as people, as a society and as a species.

Truth or lie?

Shame or courage?

We must choose wisely.

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