It’s so confusing. Is honesty always the best policy? Really? Before you get all huffy and self-righteous, think about your answer.
You would think that we’d figure these essential questions out as we age. Surprisingly, it’s been my experience walking this planet that you would be wrong about that. The older I get, the more gray I see in places other than my hair.
A husband hikes his beer, belches, and proceeds to blast his wife to his buddy, for example. They think they’re alone as they lean back in their recliners in front of the football game, but the buddy's wife overhears it. She is outraged that this man would show such disrespect to his wife, so off to the phone she tiptoes. She can’t wait to tell her friend, the clueless victim of this verbal attack. “She should know,” many would insist. Hmmm…….do you think she’s going to be better off with this knowledge? Maybe…..not.
Or an unsolicited (and unwanted) kiss from a coworker sends the married recipient into a tailspin of indecision. I put the coworker in his place, she thinks, and he won't do it again but should I tell my husband, she agonizes as she drives home from the office party? Isn’t our relationship based on honesty and trust? Back the truck up a minute, I say, before engaging in that particular conversation. This woman’s husband is feeling particularly vulnerable these days, out of work for six months and struggling with his self-image as “provider of the family.” What would be gained between this couple by sharing this information about an event that the wife did not initiate, did not willingly participate in, and subsequently put a stop to?
I realize I may be walking a tightrope here, but I don’t believe honesty is called for –or even desired by those involved—in all situations. I didn’t always think this, though; it has come as a result of watching people throw rocks of truth at each other in the name of doing what is "right.” I’ve had some of those rocks rip me apart, too, blood oozing from cuts inflicted by those who simply had to tell me the truth.
The wife whose mate speaks disrespectfully of her will gain exactly what by hearing it whispered into her ear by someone outside that relationship? And the kiss from a coworker who will be around for awhile and who now knows not to try it again? What is the reason for confessing the incident? And what would be “confessed” anyway—the errant coworker is a jerk with an overinflated view of himself as a Lothario?
I have come to understand that those who simply have to tell everything are seekers of drama. They relish being the keeper of the keys of secrets. It somehow makes them feel important, valued, no matter the destruction their words leave behind.
As for me, I say there is much to be said for a bit of discretion. Or I could just be confused…..again.
Honesty is a good thing, but it is not profitable to its possessor unless it is kept under control.