Friday, June 28, 2013

Column: Honestly


By Stephen Lautens

Calgary Sun
May 25, 2013

I dont know why so many adults have trouble with telling the truth.
Weve spent a couple of weeks with people who hold high office in this country struggling with the truth. Without naming names, weve seen a series of serious political scandals dragged out inch by painful inch.
Facts keep changing so fast that its hard to keep up with them, and theres clearly more to come. What were assured is the truth today will be further massaged, messaged and re-spun until its unrecognizable, and the spinners are counting on us being so confused by the blizzard of misinformation that we give up trying.
Im not quite sure when telling the truth became optional in public and private life.
The truth is often inconvenient. It can cause us great pain and cost us dearly, and its only natural that there are times when wed like to avoid its unpleasant consequences.
But were supposed to be adults, and one of those adult things is to tell and face the truth. I was going to say even politicians, but that really should be especially politicians.
And before you say Im hopelessly naive, let me assure you Ive been around politicians of every political persuasion all of my adult life. None of them are perfect, but not all of them choose to lie when the going gets rough.
The lie is supposed to get you out of trouble, but in reality it just compounds it. In the age of social media and ubiquitous cameras, someone is going to catch that lie and compare what you said with what you did. Were all on the record.
I think there are a lot of human failings that were pretty forgiving about, especially when we admit our own lapses while showing those other mostly forgotten and underrated emotions, a sense of shame and remorse.
I discovered in my own personal life that on those happily rare occasions when my behaviour was less than stellar, coming clean was the best policy. When I screwed up at work, after trying to fix the problem, my first stop was my boss office to explain what happened. Some were more understanding than others, but that isnt the point.
The real point is being able to live with yourself and for others to know that you are a person who can be trusted to tell the truth when the going gets tough. That is pretty much essential if your marriage is going to outlast your cell phone contract.
Like I said, sometimes our behaviour makes it hard to tell the truth. Were afraid of losing our jobs, loved ones or the idea that were perfect.
In fact, if something is hard to do, that probably means its the right thing to do. The path of the easy fix is usually turns out to be anything but.
For those things we do that are truly unforgiveable, I suppose you have little to lose by lying, but youre only putting off the inevitable. Often its the lie itself thats unforgiveable. Mistakes can be made, but betrayal is a choice.
Whether husband, wife, mayor, senator or Prime Minister, theres a price to be paid for losing someones trust, and the fastest way to do that is to lie your way out of a jamb.
By the way, lying includes not telling the whole truth as well.
And, if you dont think we can handle the truth, youre either underestimating the audience or really did something thats a deal breaker.
It also helps to say youre sorry once in a while.