Dec 28, 2016
When I was a child and growing up, I learned that lying was unacceptable, although some lies, I soon discovered, were tolerated. I don’t remember the specific incident, but here’s a scenario I have used for years to demonstrate how I learned about lies and lying: Every now and then, my mother would bake chocolate and vanilla drop cookies and filled the family cookie jar with these fresh and heart warming morsels. My two brothers and I would make frequent trips to the cookie jar, not worrying too much about what was left over for our father, who all too often turned up when the batch had all been eaten. But my mother found a solution to this problem.
It happened this way: I came downstairs after spending time reading in my room, smelling the fresh sweet aroma of cookies baking in my mother’s oven. As I made a bee line for the cookie jar, my mother nonchalantly chimed in from the dining room: “They don’t taste very good this time, they’re a little burnt, so why don’t you grab a cupcake from the frig instead?” So I sat at the table, content with a cupcake, while my youngest brother Phil descended on the cookie jar and and took the same advice from my mother. Our brother Joe eventually joined us, and the cookies were soon forgotten as we enjoyed our cupcakes. Eventually, our father came into the kitchen, and as he reached in the jar, my mother’s melodious voice begged, “Oh, honey, take a few. They really turned out well this time.”
My eleven year old jaw dropped, cake flaking onto the table while my glance darted over to my equally incredulous brothers. Once my father had gathered his treat and left the room, I looked at my mother and reprimanded her, saying, “Mom, you told a lie…a really BIG lie!!!”
Her immediate response was that she had told a “little white lie, a fib, and something that was not to be counted as a forbidden sort of lie, in view of its usefulness in solving the problem at hand.
“Well,” I thought to myself. “Here is some good information, and so I queried my parent further, asking her what other kinds of lies were ok to tell, while my brothers snickered at my admitted curiosity.
“Well,” mom said, “you can also tell a lie to be diplomatic.” My brothers and I grimaced at each other as she continued, “Say, for instance, your brothers are arguing and you tell one of them a fib, making him feel better, and that ends the disagreement.”
“Ohhhhhh, I exclaimed, “so that kind of lie is ok as well?”
“Mmmmhmmmm,” Mother nodded her head.
Soooo, “ I pressed on as my brothers’ mouths and eyes opened wider still, “When ELSE is it ok to tell a lie?”
“Well, let me see, “ my mother contemplated,” I guess it’s also ok to tell a lie when you want to keep from hurting someone’s feelings, like, for example, your friend Betsy is wearing a new dress and she is really happy with the dress and you think it looks a bit strange on her, but you will instead be polite and tell her you think it looks quite stunning on her.”
At this point my younger brothers were creeping towards the cookie jar, while I began to ponder for what ultimately became many hours, days, weeks and years from that moment on and about what my mother had revealed that day, observing people with respect to these “little white lies,” telling them myself, and becoming quite adept.
A few weeks after the cookie incident, I stopped procrastinating and finally went to church for confession. As I sat in the booth telling my sins to father Merkel, I finally got around to admitting that I had recently told six lies, but that only three of them had been “real” ones.
“Six lies? The priest seemed stunned. Six lies in six weeks—why that’s a lie every week. Would you care to explain?”
And so I told the priest what my mother had said about white lies, acceptable fibs, and solving problems with them. His suggestion, of course, was that I should say six prayers as penance for those six lies and tell my mother to call him to make an appointment to speak with him immediately.
Poor mother. She was only being honest, after all….
Elyse O’Connor 2011
Posted at 08:32 am by EMarie
Honesty is an art, and one that is cultivated by faith, will and capacity. This is especially true in diplomatic circles where so many need so much from so few. Welcome to a new game in 2017, where beginner's mind is not a tool for strategy so much as it is a resource to create an evolving agenda for all mankind. The stakes for planet and people are higher than ever and the waters are teeming with toxins and sharks.
And what I mean by Honesty being an art is that we must learn to be honest with ourselves before we can be more genuinely honest with others. That takes looking at oneself, growing in our understanding of ourselves and out of that understanding, connecting with others more honestly. That kind of self examination can uncover any number of addictions we may have---substance abuse, addictive behaviors-- gambling, sexual addiction, addiction to money, to pain, to causing pain for others, etc.
A second element of the art of honesty is the way we communicate our deepest and most honest feelings to others--sparing them pain with careful delivery of our honest feelings and thoughts as they pertain to relationships, to casual conversation or to more serious governmental or business affairs.
A third element of the art of honesty is to educate ourselves so that when we develop and share an opinion, we want to have an opinion we can trust. Because we have opinions. we may eventually realize a need to honestly back them up with what know to be true. And that means having the facts the we find available to back up our opinions. Fact checking is used to to determine how strong and real and trustworthy our opinions actually are. Feedback is another important measure of the strength of our opinions, and hopefully the feedback is at least equally honest.
A fourth element of the art of honesty is that eventually we discover the futility of attacking others for their opinions, instead of learning from them. Even if those opinions are weak, it behooves us to find out why someone has such opinions, rather than judging them at face value for better or for worse. It’s important to understand why people have the opinions they do have, to find the actual reasons for those opinions. Those reasons could understandable and those reasons could be unfathomable.
As citizens of countries who share the same earth and air, we can't lose our respect for each other and for our differences. If we do, we may lose our humanity entirely. We could lose our lives and cost more lives. We could lose our habitable earth. We could lose each other to extinction--the kind that might have been avoided.
And the art of honesty is a lifelong pursuit. Life itself is an art. Life can teach us to that we had best learn to live and live well, inclusive of others with different opinions about how life s should be.
What we say with our words has power. If our purpose is to unite humanity rather than divide it, to comfort rather than to conquer, or to bring peace, rather than allow too many wars to flourish, then we will ultimately not feel so lost and vulnerable. And we are vulnerable, whether we admit it or not.
With this and today's political difficulties in mind, I think it is important for people to be as honest with each other as they are willing to be, as they are capable of being, and as their faith, trust and allegiances might require them to be. For me that means to let my own disagreements exist less from a standpoint of competition and needing to be right or superior, and more from a heart centered and open minded acceptance of others of like minds and different minds as well. This would call for a more open inquiry into what it means to be human, an inquiry that doesn’t dismiss out of hand the opinions of others, that doesn’t dismiss them in contempt alone. In doing this, we can remove many barriers to better decisions, to better choices that can lead to more life affirming and less destructive behaviors This would be for the sake of our planet and all of its inhabitants. This would be in service not just to ourselves, but to as many others as we can serve.
Elyse O'Connor 12/16/16
Listening and Being Heard
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Posted at 08:29 am by EMarie
May 7, 2006
Working on getting more recordings done and that means creating more money--I have music grants for the rest of the year for 100 + musical visits to seniors, but it's looking like the end of the summer when my vocal chords are their most supple that I'll able to swing the fare for a couple more days and get the mixes done on the tracks I did last summer. Still paying for that.
Is there a patron of the arts available? Someone who would find it worth their while to contribute to this project? The new music market is great for distributors and subscription
sites and free music for everyone, but musicians must pay.
Waiting to record more cause that's what I love to do. My voice is the best it's ever been, but
that's my opinion. Check out http://cdbaby.com/cd/elyseoconnor3
and listen to
Senza Fine sample.
Posted at 09:27 am by EMarie