Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Consider the "responsible" in a free and responsible search for truth and meaning

"Tommy's gone," my mother had said to me when that long ago boy died. "The diphtheria. They're going to dig a hole and put him in the ground."

Mother, you don't say that to a child.

Let's set the ages down. My brother and the boy who dies are both five years old. That makes my mother twenty-seve.

"Mother, you don't need to tell children every bad thing in detail," I would say if she were here today.

"It's just the truth," she would reply.

"You told me my dog got run over and his guts were splattered everywhere."

"I'm not going to lie."

Then, why did you become a mother?

Linda McCullough Moore, "On My Way Now", The Sun, April, 2014, p.19

Editor's note:

I consider the Unitarian Universalist fourth principle, "A free and responsible search for truth and meaning" and I am struck by the importance of the word "responsible". It means so many things in the context of sharing "our truth" with someone. When a five year old asks, "Where to babies come from?" What does she really want to know, and what do we say. When your spouse asks you if you are cheating on him, do you tell him the truth even it means the end of your marriage and family? When your boss tells you your job is secure when you know the company is being bought out by some corporation and the operation is being moved to Mexico do you believe him or ask for more information even if it might lead to early termination? When your mother tells you that your leaving the church of your child hood means you will be cast into eternal damnation of hell and you will be ostracized from the family and community, do you tell her she is wrong and has been corrupted by false teachings. So many things to consider that telling the truth, especially to power is terrifying, confusing, and often far from easy.

It takes guts to be a Unitarian Universalist and live responsibly according to the fourth principle. The mother telling her five year old child that his playmate died and will be buried in a hole in a ground strikes one as irresponsible. Telling a daughter that her beloved dog was run over and her guts were "splattered every where" strikes one as cruel and insensitive. What kind of a mother or a father does this? One with a chip on his or her shoulder. One who has been hurt and is angry and enjoys seeing other people suffer too. Misery loves company as they say. When we deliberately attack and hurt other people with the truth and then smugly, passive aggressively, justify our behavior with "I was only telling the truth", we need to look a little deeper into our motivations and soul and be more honest with ourselves.

Truth telling can be a work of mercy, compassion, and empowerment, and it can be a work of attack, violence, and destruction. UUs, like every loving human being, need to know the difference. We, UUs, pride ourselves on our fourth principle, and rarely discuss the word "responsible". Let's discuss it further. What are your ideas?

My Kind Of Church Music, You lie by Reba McEntire

1 comment:

  1. Life isn't easy is it? To tell the truth or fudge it? The key it seems to me is the word "responsible". It is so easy to deceive ourselves and rationalize our lies telling ourselves that the other person doesn't need to know, the truth will only hurt them. I am doing them a favor. Be careful of justifying your lies. Sometimes the truth hurts but it needs to be said.

    Great article BTW. I am emailing it to my friends. And I love Reba. What a great voice!