Belfast Telegraph

How great a world it would be if honesty was the best policy

By Nuala McKeever

Imagine how the world would be if we could rely on ourselves and others to be honest.Claudy — sorted. Bloody Sunday — sorted. The Disappeared — sorted.

And that's just the big stuff. Imagine how smoothly life would run if we could put all our energy into making things work, without having to set aside a sizeable chunk of energy to monitor and deal with the consequences of dishonesty.

How easily we could move forward if we were actually looking forward, not looking over our shoulders.

A world where if someone makes a mistake, they say: “I made a mistake.”

They don't spend hours or days or years tying themselves in knots and dying of a heart attack because they didn't own up at the time.

Where if someone has a different opinion to yours, they say: “That's not how I see it.”

They don't spend hours or days or years avoiding saying what they think in order not to offend you, and dying of a stroke because they couldn't express themselves at the time.

Where if someone feels threatened or unloved or undervalued, they say: “I feel threatened or unloved or undervalued.” They don't spend hours or days or a lifetime hiding behind a defensive facade of aggressive bullying and dying of cancer because they couldn't reveal their actual emotions at the time.

A world where we evaluate other people's behaviour based on whether or not it works, rather than judging it on whether or not it's “right” or “wrong”, “good” or “bad”.

A world where adults can admit to being scared or lonely or unsure.

And where children can learn that it's OK to admit those things.

Where children can grow up to be the full expression of their abilities and interests rather than being a slightly distorted expression of their parents' unacknowledged fears.

Imagine all the arguments and fights and violence that wouldn't happen if we could be honest about why we aren't honest.

If we spoke clearly with our words rather than shouting unintelligibly with our fists or knives or guns.

Imagine not having to be right all the time, not having to maintain that tiring front.

Imagine failing and being applauded for trying rather than laughed at for making a fool of yourself.

Imagine it being OK to have an honest conversation about how difficult it is to be married, or monogamous or interested in your kids.

Imagine how much heartache would be avoided if we didn't decide at an early age that there was some mythical benchmark we had to live up to.

If we didn't equate success with results or failure with failing or love with control.

Imagine not being trapped in a job or a relationship because you didn't have to hide what you actually think.

Imagine being able to listen to another person and really hear them without their words being drowned out by the voice in your head telling you you have to fix them, and if you can't fix them you'd better run away.

Imagine a world where we could be totally honest with ourselves about all the parts of ourselves that go to make up ourselves.

The contradictions, the confusions, the rainbow of thoughts, desires and feelings, from the noble to the base, from the light to the dark, from the joyful to the miserable.

Who would need a weekend to look forward to if every day was like that?

Belfast Telegraph

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