Truth and kindliness (was Re: DWJ in Israeli newspaper)

minnow at minnow at
Mon Feb 16 19:11:28 EST 2004

Melissa wrote (at the end of a post, but this caught my eye because it
chimed in with something I had been considering, on and off, all day):

>Another example of people glossing over the truth in order to stay safe.

Truth may not always be the best thing, though.  There's a "dilemma" in
today's Independent, sent in by a chap who had a brief affair 21 years ago
and has stayed sporadically in touch with the married lady in question; he
has just been told by a friend that her 21-year-old son is his spitting
image, and is now sure it is his son, and not having any children wants to
know whether he ought to try to meet the young man and (presumably) spill
the beans or at least cause them to spill -- if they look that much alike
it wouldn't be something easy to hide from the younger man.

Now, I would say that in this case "glossing over the truth" is not only a
matter of "staying safe", it's a matter of not destroying three other
people (more if there are siblings in the family).  The son isn't going to
be made happy by having a total stranger suddenly turn up as his natural
father; the mother isn't going to be happy to have her infidelity revealed;
the husband isn't going to be happy to discover that he's been being made a
fool of all this time; and the ex-lover isn't going to be happy when his
natural son most likely isn't even slightly glad to meet him, but instead
regards him as a destructive menace who has come along out of the blue and
thrown his life into chaos.

So what good does not glossing over the truth do here, and to whom?  Is it
better for the son, even if it destroys all his foundations?


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