There Are No Whole Truths

“Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true.” ~ Robert Brault … 

I think we all can admit to having bent the truth at some point during our lives. And though some will tell us that “a lie is a lie,” sometimes the truth can be very harmful or damaging. And as we grow older and wiser, we discover that although honesty is almost always necessary, there are some instances in which those little white lies are helpful for all involved.

There are times in our lives where it might be more important for us to be considerate of others feelings or to show compassion and understanding instead of sharing the truth. Perhaps when someone’s life or safety is in jeopardy, or when we want to avoid a subject or an argument that is unnecessary and unhealthy for all involved. It is within our rights to prevent such unhealthy situations or outcomes by reacting with words that are not entirely true. Or maybe we simply do not wish to hurt someone else’s feelings. I know that everytime my children bring something that they have drawn to me and ask if I like it, the answer is always going to be a passionate “Yes, I do,” for even if I did not like it, what purpose would it serve to tell my child that. In a similar way, I find myself protecting my children from some dangerous truths in which they are not quite mature or developed enough to process in healthy ways. I find it helpful to remember that my understanding of “the truth,” is often times more accurately described as “my truth,” as it is a subjective truth, meaning that it is true insofar as I feel it is so–even slightly bent.

Of course, we must be aware that in bending the truth for unethical or immoral reasons, or for self-gain or to deceive others maliciously, we are not doing what Robert is talking about here–bending the truth to be kind. Honesty and truth are necessary elements of who we are, and when we live outside of truth we live small, not to mention that our consciences become dark, murky places that keep us from living our lives with passion and purpose.

When we are faced with deciding on what “truth” is best to share with others, and how we are going to say it, most likely we will ask ourselves how doing so will affect our personal integrity, which is a vital part of our identity. And perhaps one of the best ways to figure this out, is to ask ourselves three simple questions: Do I have the best of intentions? Will what I say contribute positively or negatively towards their lives? If I were in their situation, which truth would I want to hear, and which would I need to hear?

Remember to show kindness in the truths you tell others today.

Questions to consider:

Why do some people feel that any sort of “bent” truth is wrong?

How do you define “truth?”

Does every individual on this Earth deserve the truth from us in every instance? In which circumstances could you see it being more kind to bend the truth than to tell the truth straight as you see it?

For further thought:

“There are no whole truths; all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil.” ~ Alfred North Whitehead, Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead

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Filed under Commentary, Food For Thought, Living, Opinion

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