By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Facing Facts

Senator Truman seeks senatorial re-election du...Image via Wikipedia
I recall an anecdote about Truman. A man encouraged Harry to keep "giving 'em hell."  Truman replied to the effect (my recollected paraphrase): "I simply tell them the truth, but they think it's hell."

We see that type of reaction a lot in human relations. I had one incident where the person insisted on a face-to-face meeting (which I knew would be fruitless) to attempt to quash my view (and that of others) that she need to share power in the group that she was running. I told her the truth in a calm, logical fashion. She apparently thought it was hell. Result: no change. Why seek more feedback if the default mode is to reject any reduction of power as utterly out of bounds? This incident reminded me of the biblical Pharaoh who kept meeting face-to-face with Moses but had no intent of letting the children of Israel go.

In other situations, I have seen people react negatively even when the criticism did not concern them at all. Even using an example was considered "hell" because very likely the person had done the very same thing that was being negatively evaluated and did not want to be reminded of certain contradictions.

Now, let me be clear. I have met religious fanatics with personality disorders who compulsively insult and alienate people. Of course, I am not encouraging that at all. What I am talking about is situations in which egregious behavior is assertively, responsibly, and respectfully criticized, but is met with a stubborn, self-willed refusal to face the facts.

One of  the central keys to sanity is facing reality and not denying it. The Gospel tells us that it is not worth losing your soul to gain the world. In the end, you really gain nothing by refusing to face the truth. Yet, in a perverse way, many of us humans--individually and in groups--prefer to live in lies, as if the lies keep us from falling apart. They do not keep us from falling apart. They keep us apart.

Update:

For the exact Truman quote noted above, see this link.

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