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

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Tue Feb 17 14:39:17 EST 2004


Melissa wrote in reply to my heartfelt cry of "ooops!":

>>I didn't at all mean to suggest you were being simplistic, I just saw how
>>your sentence could be used in a simplistic way and followed my own thought
>>from there.
>Don't worry, I didn't think that.  Though after I rambled on I came up with
>a better way of putting it: it's the difference between *telling* the truth
>and *facing* the truth, between revealing a hidden secret to others and
>learning to live with it oneself.

That is a very fine and right way of saying what I was trying to mean.  (Do
you get bored with being Allways Right?  Because please don't stop.)

>I am not in favor of telling unnecessary truths, as you put it; I see it as
>(in most cases) a purely selfish act that benefits no one but the teller,
>who may even be acting out of spitefulness and hiding behind their
>"honesty."  It may be truthful that someone you work with looks like Ichabod
>Crane, but saying so doesn't do anyone any good.

Somebody once said something along the lines "Don't feel you have to
confess to your spouse that you have had an affair, when once it is over.
All you're doing is looking for absolution so that *you* will feel better,
and you will cause a lot of pain to your spouse."

This is my day for not remembering where things come from, isn't it. D'oh.

I *do* know where there is a fine example of an older and wiser man telling
a young one who has made an ass of himself (going on a spree in London and
getting into debt) that he thinks it would be a very bad idea to Confess
All to his father after he has been rescued from the consequences of his
folly:

     "Yes, that is very noble of you, of course, but I have always
  found it to be an excellent plan, before one indulges in an orgy
  of expiation, to consider whether the recipient of the sort of
  confession you have in mind may not be made to suffer a great deal
  of quite unnecessary pain."
     "You don't think I should tell my father, sir?"
     "I not only don't think you should: I utterly forbid you to
  mention the matter to him."

That's from Georgette Heyer's book *Arabella*.  It seems very sensible, to me.

Minnow


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