Mixed Salad of Thoughts

Friday, August 10, 2007

Truth and Justice

Stephanie Dornbrook often includes in her posts the names or lyrics of songs that pop into her head and won't come out...I currently have some lyrics on loop that are from a song of my parents generation. It's particularly frustrating as I cannot for the life of me come up with more than the single line: "Because it's eeeea-sier, easier said than done." There is a little more tinkling of melody before and after, but no other lines, and I wonder if it's because that's the only line that relates to what I've been thinking/feeling lately.

I had a rather sleepless night the other night with thoughts running through my mind and a mix of emotions making my stomach upset. It had been a long time since I've had this kind of night.

So with an extra 8 hours or so to kill while I wasn't sleeping, I did some cleaning, uploaded music and photos to my computer, drank some chamomile tea, did some reading, some praying, some meditating, and finally when all other diversionary tactics failed, I did some thinking.

I was thinking about a number of things, but I'm not sharing them all with you, which is interesting, because one of the main subjects I was thinking about was truthfulness, and whether withholding information, or thoughts is still truly honest, and if one must say something, how to find the right words to say.

My desire to work on being completely truthful lately has been straightforward in many aspects of my life, but has come upon a bit of a stumbling block in that I occasionally find myself at a loss as to how I can be honest and truthful and yet still speak in a loving and kind way and in a way that will not "burden the hearer" ...and I've been wondering whether it is better to be honest in ALL cases even if the truth won't make someone any happier, could make them sadder, or couldn't lead to a better outcome for anyone involved. These thoughts are also wrapped up with my own ideas about justice and fairness.

It seems to me that oftentimes humans are almost self-destructive in their desire for fairness/justice. I was reading something lately that talked about the change that our brains go through psychologically and physiologically around the age of eleven. Prior to that age our games and play were built around imagination and interaction usually is focused on "fun", but around that age the way a child plays begins to change and the focus of games become rules and fairness, and in watching children play they may spend up to half the time establishing and enforcing rules. It is our tendency to try to find logic in our world and fairness and justice help us make the world make sense. But how often is that search for justice the cause of much unhappiness and turmoil!

Now let's think about our desire for truth, and our desire for justice. Let's say for instance that you order something and it is delayed. Would you rather hear the truth: that someone screwed up entering something into a computer screen in the shipping department and as a result it won't go out until next weekend, or would you rather be told that the piece you ordered was unfortunately damaged in shipping and that the company is working hard to be able to rush a new piece out so that you can get it by next weekend. Now imagine you won't be compensated in any way (or at least any way significant to you) for the delay, regardless of who is at fault. Would you rather think it an unfortunate accident, or human error?

I've found most people feel they need to know WHY something has happened, but they accept a situation more readily if they believe it is just luck, or fate, or randomness, then if they believe something for which they could blame someone or find fault in a person or system. They feel that justice must demand compensation for an avoidable situation, but an unavoidable "accident" finds its balance despite a lack of any external compensation. We can resign ourselves to the bumps in the road of life as long as we can't find someone to blame for them.

"Let truthfulness and courtesy be your adorning" - Baha'u'llah
"Lay not on any soul a load which ye would not wish to be laid upon you, and desire not for any one the things ye would not desire for yourselves." (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 128)
"Beware lest ye offend the feelings of anyone, or sadden the heart of any person, or move the tongue in reproach of and finding fault with anybody, whether he is friend or stranger, believer or enemy"(Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha v1, p. 44)
"Never is it the wish of 'Abdu'l-Bahá to see any being hurt, nor will He make anyone to grieve; for man can receive no greater gift than this, that he rejoice another's heart. I beg of God that ye will be bringers of joy, even as are the angels in Heaven." (Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, sec. 174, pp. 203-204)

So when absolute honesty would be hurtful and silence is not an option, how do we find the balance, faith and direction to walk the invisible tightrope? Yup, as the song says... "It's easier said than done"

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Anonymous SarahA said...

Interesting points. Definitely something to think about. I do not express myself honestly and I always thought I had to work on that, but maybe the reason I have trouble with it is my fear that people won't like.

9:11 AM  

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