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Remember the explosive court room scene in the 1992 movie ’A Few Good Men’ based on the court martial of two U.S. Marines. Lieutenant Kaffee played by Tom Cruise is cross-examining Jack Nicholson’s character, Colonel Jessep and he says:
‘I want the truth’, to which Jessep replies, ‘You can’t handle the truth’.
It’s an oft-quoted line from the movie which explores the ideas of loyalty, code and honour. During Jessep’s dramatic speech, he goes on to make some interesting points about people burying their heads in the sand – preferring not to know the truth about what is being done to keep them safe.
How comfortable are you with telling the truth? Are you able to hear the truth yourself? Do you fear the consequences of speaking up and telling people what you think? I was once fired by a friend for telling her the truth. To be honest, it wasn’t really the truth but more an interesting observation….or so I thought.
Turns out she was seeking an audience, not a friend, someone who would agree with everything she said and did and not challenge her about what were clearly dysfunctional ways of behaving. I was sad to lose a friend but at peace that she wrote me out of her life as these are not the kinds of friendships I value.
True friends tell you the truth – they support you, love you, but hold you to account. I do believe in saying what I think, it’s honest but it doesn’t always sit well with everyone. I remember once having an argument with an ex-boyfriend who told me to ‘keep the truth to yourself!’ That was an eye-opener….
It doesn’t mean there aren’t times when you need to hold your tongue and not blurt out every random thought in your head. I haven’t always got this right but I’m working on it! However, I do believe in picking your battles and not being hurtful just for the sake of getting your point of view across. What counts is the intent behind your words – are you seeking to build up or tear down?
But….it’s important to tell the truth, to yourself and to each other, to try and be open and authentic about what you feel and what you think. Why? It’s important because telling the truth is about your integrity:
‘Integrity is the quality of being honest and fair’. In ethics, ‘integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions.’ It’s a character trait that people admire as it means a person has a moral compass that they stick to.
Yes, telling the truth can make you more vulnerable and open to negative consequences but it’s also a self-esteem booster and people will be drawn to you as someone who can be trusted to speak their truth. It’s also the basis for the name ‘Integro’, integrity and personal growth combined together.
I’ve had friends tell me some home truths about myself and I’ve gone away and thought about what they’ve said. Most times they are right! I don’t know about you but I’d rather be told the truth so I can learn more about myself and perhaps do things better or differently.
I was grateful for their advice and comforted by the fact they felt able to talk to me honestly and openly. As uncomfortable as it can be to hear the truth about some aspect of your life or behaviour, it’s always better than not knowing. If you don’t have anyone in your life who fronts up and tells it like it is, go find them!
Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we tried to live more like this, if people were more real and removed the masks they hide behind? What would happen if we strived to be more honest and authentic? As difficult as it can be, perhaps we would understand each other better if we were more transparent about our motivations, our fears and our concerns.
I live in hope….
‘Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.’ (William Faulkner)
Take care and be kind to each other