Wednesday, February 5, 2014

To Be or Not to Be...Genuine

This post is about...
1.  Verbal Honesty
2.  Honest Actions
3.  Honest Intentions
4.  Children are genuine

I am a pretty genuine person by nature.  I wear my emotions visibly even if I ought not to.  I often bluntly say what I’m thinking to my disgrace.  I am not very good at being socially correct.  However when I look at my life in terms of honesty, I am appalled at my poor track record.

I have learned that honesty in word is different than emotional honesty.  Here’s a brief explanation of what I mean.

Words…telling the truth when asked.  It is easy to define verbal honesty.  The truth is black and white.  Either the cookie has chocolate chips in it or it doesn’t.  There is no in between truth.  Sometimes we get tangled up with semantics.  The tooth fairy is not a real being but there is a human who “acts” like the tooth fairy when rewarding small children for putting teeth under their pillows.  The tooth fairy is a true role not a true being.  Also, we generally say it is not socially correct to say we don’t like someone’s choice of dress or hair color even if it is true. 

Deeds…doing honest things entails everything from not stealing to showing up for a doctor appointment when we’ve scheduled their time.  We get tangled up in this one when we do something without telling a person in charge about our action.  For example…the youth camp leader picked a song for the skit with the approval of the other youth.  I as the adult camp leader vetoed the song she picked when I decided that a different song would be better, downloaded my choice and burned a cd for the camp skit—  and didn’t tell her.  She was surprised when she found out but she couldn’t change anything at that point.  It is hard to fess up to misdeeds and so we find widespread dishonesty there.  If an adult is knowingly choosing to harm by an action that favors their interest over the other person’s interest, they will likely not be honest upfront and my not be honest when caught.

Emotions…this is where we get to the intent of the word “genuine.”  The most basic form of emotional dishonesty is when someone asks, “how are you?” and we answer with “fine” whether or not it is true.  This is small potatoes — and generally accepted.  In fact, if you answer accurately the question you might get a quizzical look.  It gets stickier… when an emotion we feel — is not “socially correct.”  I think people expect a widow to grieve but they feel more comfortable if she “acts” happy.  When someone is terminally ill we expect them to be downhearted but not every day.  Why do we have such unrealistic preferences or expectations?  I think we as humans are basically lazy.  We don’t want to invest our energy in buoying someone else up every time we see them.  If we think they are going to be a drag we might even avoid them just like the priest and the Levite avoided the injured traveller when the Samaritan did not.

Maybe that is why Jesus said we should be like a child to get into the Kingdom of Heaven.  Children are very genuine.  Their emotions are never “socially correct.”  They may do a dishonest deed but they will usually tell you if you confront them and offer an immediate apology.  If they tell a lie, it is usually not malicious and we expect parents to train children to tell the truth when they try to fib.

If I could change one thing about the past, it would be to give myself the confidence to be genuine.

Here's a picture of me angry but smiling.  Emotional dishonesty captured on film.