“Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth.”
“Truth itself is an emergent distinction.
It’s not a noun; it’s more of a verb.”
“… tell them there’s a cost … every decision we make in life, there’s always a cost.”
Conversely … I imagine that means someone is always right … or is always wrong.
What a fucked up world that would be.
It sometimes seems like we are close to that world today. And if we are … well … there is always a cost.
Right or wrong … any statement made … even when sensible and accurate from both a moral and leadership perspective … pays a price in the current societal climate. Statements get parsed word by word scrutinized & tortured to a point where someone will say anything to stop the pain.
I have stated before that it is a tough time for truth tellers.
The climate, to me, is becoming one of steadfast unequivocal semi-truths where someone refuses to admit truth is rarely simple and complexity is rarely viewed as something to be embraced … not to be discarded as ‘silly political correctness.’ The current information climate sometimes embraces a contrary opinion as a viable reason to not accept a majority expert analysis as an accepted truth.
I imagine what I am suggesting is that even truth is being challenged by a divisive society.
“Nobody is right and nobody is wrong. Only one thing is right, and that is the Truth, but nobody knows what it is. It is a thing that changes all the time, and then comes back to the same thing.”
Divisiveness not only makes truth an unpleasant discussion but makes communicating truth excruciatingly unpleasant.
And just as with anything that gets abused or when someone decided to play by different rules … it can become quite tempting to start adopting others habits, attitudes & behaviors under the guise of ‘leveling the playing field.’
Some people’s abuse of truth is no excuse for all people to abandon the use of truth – overall or for one truth.
Here is a Life truth.
Truth does not reside on an uneven playing field. It resides on one field which is level and lined with uneraseable boundaries.
There may be exceptions in which truth may reside close to the margins … exceptions where being righteous toward some meaningful ends permits truth to be placed right on the out of bounds line itself. But you will find the ‘truth abusers’ almost always argues that their particular truth fits within the margins.
Let’s be clear.
Everyone who disagrees with something you say or believe … is not stupid.
In fact … suggesting so, or even suggesting that agreement of opposing views <with a bigger vision in mind> is wrong shows lack of intellectual depth.
James A. Garfield:
“The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.”
But maybe the issue isn’t truth but the inability to be able to tell the difference between truth and fiction.
I can honestly say I am not sure if I am a cynic, a realist or simply a cynical optimist <hope undergirds just about anything I believe and do>.
I clearly understand that there is often a fine line between that realism and cynicism just as I understand there is sometimes a fine line between contrarianism and … well … crackpotism.
But here is the deal <the truth as it were>.
I read somewhere ‘going thru life avoiding the truth is no way to live.’
Maybe no truer words said.
But what may be even worse? “going thru Life with no truth is no way to live.”
I struggle to think of a more unpleasant world than one in which we have no accepted truths.
Or a world in which we have no accepted truth tellers.
And by that last thought I mean the real truth tellers … the ones who do not appeal to one group or another … but rather the truth teller who can speak, speak even the unpleasant truths, and all audiences accept it.
All of that said leads me back to the opening quote in which cynicism and truth are inextricably linked.
Personally I believe a thread of cynicism is healthy. It grounds you enough to insure you don’t become infatuated by the lure of some fantastical untruth which may seem appealing … as well as it insure you put real truths to the grindstone of rigorous logic.
But if you accept this thought. This thought that we should all carry around a little cynicism. Well. that creates some challenges to a truth teller. It suggests that telling the truth will almost always have some aspect of unpleasantness.
I could argue that the unpleasantness is grounded in the necessary work it should take to rationalize & energize real truth … but … to someone telling the truth <a real truth> in their heart of hearts it kind of feels like it shouldn’t take that much work.
We should not tell the truth only when truth is needed. We should tell the truths all the time. That is how truth wins over semi truths and made up truths and actual no truths.
And while truth tellers must try to get the truth across in a respectful way … they must also accept that truth, in general, almost always has a slightly unpleasant taste when fed to someone.
“The choice to give up bitterness is not easy, but it is simple: peace or poison.
And don’t wait until you feel like making it. You never will.”
Truth has never been an easy concept.
Some could even argue that people, in general, are quite happy with a robust portion of Truth being fairly malleable.
Despite the fact we often bemoan the fact that people are too accepting of what they hear and don’t utilize the internet to research their own beliefs … we can’t expect every individual to always fact-check, question and investigate every single statement or bit of information ever encountered.
People will always take some shortcuts and it is silly to think people will not.
In the good ole days the shortcuts were leaders, the authority and a range of experts. Nowadays that shortcut is … well … the wisdom of the crowd.’ If a sufficient number of information outlets, or people, confirm something … well … then many of us began to believe it was acceptable to believe it.
The downside of ‘wisdom of the crowd’ is that it comes at the expense of ‘the wisdom of the leader/expert.’
The ‘crowd wisdom’ seems to suggest that a sufficiently large crowd <of non-experts> can be at least as accurate as a small number of expert authorities. This all gets exacerbated by the fact social media has a natural ability to aggregate a subjectively “sufficient large crowd” to solidify a belief.
Obviously this faulty logic <crowds do not invariably gain wisdom but rather simply coalesce around a belief – whether that belief is truth or not>.
But crowds of likeminded people are like gravity. It feels like a natural law even if it is difficult to prove. And the outcome of this ‘natural law feeling’ is that it contributes to an unjustified, exaggerated distrust in experts who reside somewhere outside this particular crowd.
But here is where truth tellers really end up in a really unpleasant space.
In the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ no one contradicts me in good faith … any opponent to what I believe must be lying … anyone must have been corrupted by someone or something <therefore are corrupt in some way>… and they must be ‘a lesser version of me & my crowd’ <if not actually some version of a degenerate>.
Rereading all of that … well … truth is an unpleasant business.
And that is where cynicism comes back into the conversation. While a truth teller sees truth as good and positive they need to recognize that truth is more often going to be viewed as … well … bad news.
I say that because bad news is always unpleasant … and therefore a bearer of bad news always has to think about the unpleasant way of saying the truth.
Good truth tellers, the ones with a strong moral compass, recognize the presence of the inner cynic in everyone and the fact it is difficult to keep its influence from … well … influencing how one thinks & acts.
Good truth tellers, the ones with unequivocal integrity, recognize the crowd’s more hardened inner cynicism and the fact that whatever good news they bear will be bad news to the cynical.
Good truth tellers recognize it is not easy to tell the truth, in fact, it may even be unpleasant … and they take the extraordinary efforts necessary to address the inner cynicism from day one.
“People are stupid.
They think the truth is so easy to know or tell.
All you can do is your best in the circumstances. “
Comment in The Guardian
People are not stupid. I am fairly positive that all people really desire is truth.
And that is a fair desire.
But because truth is rarely simple … in addition … the world offers only fairly complex circumstances in which to tell the truth.
All this means is that for the foreseeable future … truth telling is going to be unpleasant.
“Don’t trust the beginnings, truth is told in the last moments.”