Recently I travelled throughout Germany and took in places that have made their way into books mostly related to war history: Potsdam, Dresden and Berlin to name a few. As I travelled between cities, I couldn’t help but ponder the events that led to so many wars in Europe over the centuries; so many skirmishes, infighting, prolonged battles that were glossed over only to lead to the eruption of yet another. To fill in the hours when I had no one left to text and failing light put an end to my reading, I reflected on battles of another nature – the stand offs in families, the breakdowns between friends and the endless number of partnerships that become yet another statistic of failed businesses because people do the wrong thing by one another.
I see so many conflicts where one party lies, cheats or steals, and then covers their tracks because they have extreme difficulty with the truth. They say that 'sorry' seems to be the hardest word, but dealing with the truth in my book is right up there on the hardness scale.
A business partner feels that they are carrying an unfair share of work but knows that if they tell the truth to their partner it will cause a major blow up. And yet with the truth not being told the bubble bursts somewhere down the line, often over a silly, minor issue.
A woman is so unhappy in a marriage and talks incessantly about her problems but can’t muster the courage to tell her husband for fear that the marriage breakdown will leave her with financial difficulties so she lives a lie.
A friend stabs another friend regularly behind their back to others but never utters a word to their face.
We live in a world that has walls because we can’t handle the truth. Our almost phobic reaction to telling things as they are, not just our distorted version of them, causes so many problems.
It’s not a question of the truth as we see it. That, often, is a distortion of the truth. Someone told us something about another party, but omitted key details that would have put themselves in a bad light. The gossip balls rolls on until it does immeasurable damage.
Telling the truth is something we need to put high on the agenda. It sets the record straight, helps avoid so much hurt, and puts an end to gossip allowing us to focus on things that matter. Remember those wonderful words of Eleanor Roosevelt: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
We need to discuss and debate ideas regularly. We need to put issues of all kinds on the table and use wisdom to help us really sort out problems, rather than use mere words that paper over cracks – even if those words are “I’m sorry”. It takes courage to raise contrary points of view and hard work to see these through to a lasting solution.
Here’s one issue that gets under my skin: we have a drug problem in our society. It manifests itself in the proliferation of young people prostituting themselves in parks and brothels. In 10 years time, is that going to be the next government apology? “I’m sorry for ignoring this issue and for all the young lives that were affected or destroyed because our governments stood by and watched it escalate?”
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