“But Mummy, The Emperor has no clothes on!”

By the end of childhood, if we’ve grown up well and successfully, most of us seem to end up with two lessons firmly instilled in our minds:

  1. Be honest.
  2. 2. Be nice.

And, if we’re honest with ourselves, the subtle message that we’re given is that 2 overrides 1. So don’t be honest if it means being not nice.

Eh? I, for one, am beginning to notice the flaws in this.

I was chatting with a friend last night and she said some powerful words: Not Telling All The Truth is the Same As Lying.

It’s a funny boundary. I’m not sure what I think of this statement right now. I understand that sometimes there’s just too much truth to tell, and because it’s understood implicitly we don’t need to state it. My friend doesn’t walk into my house and say “wow this place is messy and what’s that funny smell coming from the corner?” (possibly because it’s usually in some degree of mess, although as soon as I figure out what that funny smell is coming from it will be gone!) although to do so would be an expression of truth, and she’s not lying because she didn’t say anything.

If, on the other hand, before she got up on stage before a large audience she asked me “Do I look fat in this?” and I said “No!” (truthfully) but neglected to tell her that the back of her dress was caught up in her undies, then that’s kind of what she means.

Sometimes we need to say the hard stuff.

Being the first person to say it will always be hard. You will always feel stupid, or wrong, or maligned or ashamed for doing so.Sometimes though, if things need to change, being honest is the only thing to do.

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8 thoughts on ““But Mummy, The Emperor has no clothes on!”

  1. Megan, do you think it matters whether the person wants to hear the truth? I struggle with this because I tend to call it as I see it – more so since I have gotten older. Sometimes I realize that just maybe the other person wasn’t ready to hear the truth or I wasn’t the one they wanted to hear it from. It sure gets complicated and I’m interested in your thoughts.

    • Pat that is a BRILLIANT question…I have no time right now, but I’ll have a think about that and hopefully blog about it on Friday.
      I was thinking specifically today about situations rather than people, and how we put up with things rather than talk about them, but there’s been an in my world pertaining to exactly that – people unwilling to hear the truth. It’s a complex one, thanks for bringing it up.

  2. Lies/sins of omission are often more harmful than lies/sins of commission. What is held back is inevitably discovered and the initial lie is relived. Kind of a two for the price of one pain inflicted on the other!

    • I think you’re right there to some extent: yes. The people who do the covering up are almost equally to blame as the ones who inflict the injury. But it depends on the effects of the injury, and sometimes that depends solely on the recipient of it – one of my kids feels things much more intensely than the other, so one’s injuries and grievances I have to take more seriously…the same is true for adults as well. What I’m getting at is some people call it “grace” to not cover over an offence, and sometimes it is, and other people feel the need to tell, probably because they’re the ones for whom things are harder…oh this is too big to think about!!!

  3. I’m sorry. I was going to blog about this tomorrow but it’s doing my head in. This is a roundtable conversation, not a subject for a monologue 🙂 But thanks all for your responses, it’s a big topic, and an important one. I appreciate your input.

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