Honesty: The Best Policy (…for the Bullshitter)

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul.”

Carl Jung (1875-1961)

In this modernistic/post-modern world, everyone wants The Truth. We want facts told to us straight. We want life, the world, the universe to be deconstructed and pinned to our walls for further analytical dissection. Given the choice to be happy or right, 9 times out of 10, we will choose to be right. We want out of the Matrix and into Zion – full autonomy, fuck The Man, We Are the 99%.

It’s all very cute, really.

And here we come to the Radical Honesty movement. According to radical honesty followers, it is never under any circumstances whatsoever from here to the edge of the Oort Cloud – never – okay to lie. Even that white lie you tell your mother about how fantastic her cooking is is detrimental in the long run. Or something like that.

radical honesty | The Big Blog of All the Shit I Know

At least they’re, well… honest.

All right, to be honest, this is an extremely poor representation of them and they’re idea isn’t all that terrible. I certainly think I lie more than is healthy (or am I just saying that?) The founder of the movement Brad Blanton is just as shady as you or me, he’s just more selective:

“‘I advocate never lying in personal relationships. But if you have Anne Frank in your attic and a Nazi knocks on the door, lie….I lie to any government official.’ (Blanton’s politics are just this side of Noam Chomsky’s.) ‘I lie to the IRS. I always take more deductions than are justified. I lie in golf. And in poker.'”

(Taken from an article in Esquire, which you should definitely read for shits, giggles, and some actually legit information.)

However, a problem with “radical honesty” is that the truth – or what we perceive as the truth – is burdensome. It is selfish to back up your dump truck and unload on everyone all the god damn time. Honesty is not a through and through virtue. It is a tool, just like the rest of human communication. It can be used to build or dismantle, and can just as easily be used to deceive. How much of advertising is built on “not technically lying?”

Blanton believes radical honesty makes for more intimate relationships. Perhaps so for a few people. But how realistic is it? The filters between the mind and the mouth were not developed as a detriment to our development as social organisms. In fact, the filters are essential in establishing social connection. Taking responsibility for what you say is what you do as a human being that gets along with other human beings. Saying something completely insulting, hurtful, or otherwise destructive and then passing it off as “it’s just radical honesty, get over it” is an example of not owning your own crap. It is placing the emotional responsibility on everyone else. If you were to take offense at what a radically honest person says, it’s your problem and that’s that.

Hiding behind honesty is no better than hiding behind lies.

Don’t lie to me now: When’s the last time you told a lie? A white lie? A big fat criminally implicating lie? (Shhh, your secret’s safe here). And what’s your take on Radical Honesty?

Quick Thought: Let Them Eat Cake (No Thanks, I’m on a Diet)

“The world’s most ‘primitive’ people have few possessions, but they are not poor. Poverty is not a certain small amount of goods, nor is it just a relation between means and ends; above all it is a relation between people. Poverty is a social status. As such it is the invention of civilization. It has grown with civilization, at once as an invidious distinction between classes and more importantly as a tributary relation.”

Marshall Sahlins (1930 – )

There is a distinction between poverty and being poor. Wealth is not merely a measure of how much money or stuff you have. Material wealth has been created as a function of civilization to create a hierarchy, to put certain groups above other groups. The higher people scramble up the ladder, the more power is being hoarded at the expense of others. Sahlins almost implies that class distinctions is the product of an age old conspiracy.

Hold the phone. A “conspiracy” implies that the creation of poverty, classes, class warfare was consciously planned. However, it seems that whatever was planned in the beginning (if anything was planned) has spiraled way out of control. While the big wigs, corporations, the powers that be may be manipulative scumbags, it is not too far-fetched to believe that they don’t have a clue about this “plan” anymore than you or I do. Forgive them, for even they know not what they do.

Toti Cerda painting - happiness in poverty

Toti Cerda, Contemporary Art Phillipines