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

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Tue Feb 17 00:27:10 EST 2004


On Tue, 17 Feb 2004 00:11:28 +0000, minnow at belfry.org.uk wrote:

>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?
>
This is a different kind of situation than the one I was referring to.  I
think Sally put it best in her response that it makes a difference whether
knowing the truth will make things better.  Some people like to say horrible
things about others with the excuse that it's true, priding themselves on
their honesty when they really should question whether their "honest"
communications are worth saying.  You are citing an example where the truth
(which in this case is actually just a possibility) is unknown and is
unlikely to be revealed unless the man in question decides to do something
about it.  What I was referring to, in response to Ven's situation, is the
kind of truth which *is* known to everyone involved and yet is ignored, as
though this will make it go away.  It's not about deciding not to reveal a
previously unknown and potentially devastating fact; it's about pretending
that the monster in the corner doesn't exist and will go away if you pretend
hard enough.

My opinion about the above situation is that the possible father would be
acting out of pure selfishness if he decided to spill the beans at this
point.  Keeping silence is a matter of discretion, not glossing over the
truth.

Melissa Proffitt

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