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Radical or Rigorous? Honesty

Posted Jan 07 2011 12:00am

One of the tenets of recovery is honesty. You’ve got to stop lying to yourself and lying to others. You have to clear away the wreckage of your past and make amends whenever possible. There’s something very cathartic about living without lying. It’s different when you’re trying to be pure and clean and good. Isn’t that a nice image? But being honest can also be raw and exposed and vulnerable, which is not quite as nice. Or it can be mean and destructive. Think, “Hey, babe, your breath stinks,” or “Yes those jeans do make your ass look fat”

Years ago I read a book called Radical Honesty. The idea was to live without lying, like the character Loker in “Lie to Me” during season one. It’s an appealing philosophy. But I thought then, as I do now, that there was a mean edge to that kind of “radical honesty.” There’s an article at  http://www.esquire.com/features/honesty0707 where the author of that book is interviewed. I thought he sounded like a jerk.

There’s another book I read more recently that I like much, much better. It’s called The Truth Machine. It’s a science fiction novel that wonders what the world would be like if we could always tell when someone is lying. I just love that book because in it, people figure out a way how to be honest and decent, all at the same time.

In the novel, there’s a truth machine (duh) that gets invented. Eventually, it’s produced in a small enough version that we can all wear one on our wrists. It shows a green light when the truth is being told, and just like a stop light, yellow and red indicate levels of deception. As you can imagine it revolutionizes our world.

So I guess what I think is that rigorous honesty is good and radical honesty is not.

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