I realize I take some swipes at various people and groups on this blog from time to time. In my defence, although I can come across as critical, that’s probably because I’m an idealist at heart, and anything less than perfection seems like a crime to me (which is probably why I enjoy book and film editing so much; it’s a chance to make things “perfect”). And to be completely honest, I’m probably harder on myself than I am on others, which is why I feel like a failure most of the time. My life is great, but it hasn’t nearly lived up to my ideal, and I don’t feel like I’ve come anywhere close to reaching my potential.
However, that combination of idealism, perfectionism and self-deprecation can be toxic and deadly, not only for me but also for others who wander into my sights. If you’re one of those people, I apologize. Unfortunately, too many of us make a business–or a ministry–out of using “truth” as a whip or a club instead of a healing balm or a spark of wonder. With that in mind, I share the following quote, which a friend sent to me last night.
To speak the truth, or what seems to be truth to us, is not a very hard thing, provided we do not care what harm we do by it, or whom we hurt by it. This kind of “truth-telling” has been always common. Such truth-tellers call themselves plain, blunt men, who say what they think, and do not care who objects to it. A man who has a good deal of self-reliance and not much sympathy, can get a reputation for courage by this way of speaking the truth. But the difficulty about it is, that truth thus spoken does not convince or convert men; it only offends them. It is apt to seem unjust; and injustice is not truth. Some persons think that unless truth is thus hard and disagreeable it cannot be pure. Civility toward error seems to them treason to the truth. Truth to their mind is a whip with which to lash men, a club with which to knock them down. — James Freeman Clarke