Is it always better to know the truth, even when it hurts? Or is ignorance bliss? Or are they both true some of the time?
Truth is a funny thing. We all claim to want to know more truth, the entire truth, yet I wonder: How many of us can really handle the truth?
What is truth? As self-proclaimed philosopher and avid thinker, I would say that truth is a feeling more so than a fact because everyone has their own opinion and views on any given subject. When we do not say our feelings, or when we apologize for our feelings, we are apologizing for our truth. There will never be a perfect truth that all of humanity can agree on. Truth, when pertaining to one’s feelings, can change from one moment to the next, yet never making their initial truth a lie. How so? We are a species that changes our truth about our lives based on our feelings of the current situation. If we tell someone who we will love them forever. We are telling them that as of today, we love them and will love them forever. However, as seen in the divorce rates, people’s feelings can change and when they no longer love that person they are only expressing their current truth. I have taken many philosophy classes and in one a professor asked the question: “If your spouse were to cheat on you would you divorce them or stay with them?”
He asked various married people throughout the class, each one responding in a strong “divorce” or “work it out” answer. When he came to me, I was caught off guard by the question because I have never been cheated on by my spouse. My response was, ” How can I answer a question based on emotions that I haven’t felt? I can not answer for my future self because my feelings are constantly changing. Perhaps on the day, hypothetically, my husband cheats on me I happen to be having a particularly wonderful day? Perhaps I am bearing his child? These would lead me, in theory, to answer that I would seek professional marriage counseling. On the other hand, if the same hypothetical situation were to occur on a day that was draining or my mood was negative, I may go as far as to attack my spouse and leave him on the spot. This question is a question of current truth. Therefore, as of today, as a non-cheated on wife, I can not answer the question truthfully.” (I got an A in that class).
Truth with other people comes down to one thing: Band-aides. Yes, band-aides. Do you rip off your band aid or do you slowly loosen it, pulling one teeny tiny hair at a time until the band aid slides off? I rip that sucker right off. I like to know the entire truth for the most part. If it’s bad news, especially if it’s pertaining to me or something that I have personally done wrong, I want it to hurt just once and deal with the pain after. That’s how I deal with life. Give it to me straight,let me process the information in whatever way I need to and then let me fix it or deal with it.
When it comes to other people though, I usually find myself suggesting the truth or trying to get the other person to see the truth themselves without actually “telling” them the truth. This is only if it pertains to them and their life. This question about truth is so loaded that I think I would have to categorize the different instances where the entire truth or partial truth is better.
1. When someone you love/like asks you a direct question pertaining to their own talent or anything that may or may not affect their self-worth/esteem:
“Do you think I can get this job?”
My answer(whether I think they can or they can’t): Do you think you can get this job? You are the one interviewing for it? If you are asking if I believe in you, then the answer is yes. I believe in your abilities but am not the one going out for the job, you are, so you must believe you can do it.
Truth in this instance makes no difference because what the person is really asking for is encouragement. We have all asked this question to a loved one or peer before, knowing in your hearts the answer, yet still needing to hear it from another person as a sign of validation. In this instance, “your” truth is insignificant and if you care for the person you should encourage them.
2. When it comes to another person’s truth on their life. I take both sides of the truth. I first have to feel the person out to see if they really could handle the truth.
Example: A friends asks why they can’t find the right man. If this is a close friend, and they are asking me as a real question, not just a platform to complain about men, I will answer truthfully and bluntly.
What it comes down to is if I feel the person can handle hearing the truth. If that person can handle me putting a mirror to their face. This would be with a person I know fairly well, of course.
3. If I know something about another person that could alter their life, like that their significant other is cheating on them, I would tell the truth depending on my relationship with that person. The reason, unfortunately, is because when people find out a significant other is cheating on them they tend to “kill the messenger”.
4. If we are speaking of truth in its easiest definition, as telling it like it is, an event, a mistake, then the only way is to tell the truth. Lying always comes back to haunt you.
5. Telling the truth all the time for the basic questions in life has gotten me into so much trouble. I always tell people the truth about how I am feeling and it often makes them uncomfortable and sometimes guilty which is never my intention. I answer questions directly and blunty and have gotten into arguements with people who have different views than I do. To be truthful causes me to be defensive about my feelings sometimes.
6. When it comes to an event, I tell the truth as simply as it is. I feel like if you never lie, then you’ll never have to remember your story because you have been telling the truth from the beginning. But, in some case, is you keep the truth to yourself, then you’ll never have to tell any stories either. Some things I will take to the grave because these are my stories that I would like to stay with just me and I do not feel it necessary to share with anyone else.
Truth. Overall, I tell as much of the truth as necessary, but I do not lie. I am a terrible liar and I would rather not say anything at all in some cases than take sides. I am not blunt. I have tact. However, if you catch me in a particularly annoyed mood, where I don’t feel like BS-ing, I will tell it like it is in my opinion without thinking about whose feelings will get hurt.
Bottom line. People can only handle so much truth. The difficult part is figuring out how much is just enough truth.