The Most Taboo Thing In Our Culture Is Radical Honesty, And That’s Exactly The Problem

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Brianna Wiest

We are being suffocated by a culture — and a people — that, out of an irreverence for honesty, has grown an inability to coexist.

We call opinions that aren’t immediately harmonious with ours “offensive,” and use that word to make it wrong to see or hear them. (Not to mention, we’re more “offended” by a woman’s nipple and a swear word than we are half of the global atrocities of famine and war and the destruction of the environment.) We police people into only saying and doing things that make sense to us. We grew up in a culture that taught us to put ourselves last, even when “putting other people first” is fake and disingenuous and rooted in resentment and dishonesty. We are all dying of some untouched, unrealized internal loneliness, grasping onto the bits of writing and music that speak in the way we otherwise cannot. We’re suffering from anxiety and depression and loneliness and uncertainty and fear and failure mostly because we have to continue to paint an outward picture of the opposite. The inability to realize those natural, crucial parts of life is what makes them “bad.” Nobody is honest and so nobody is finding anybody who loves them for them, because they aren’t being who they are. There are only finding people who love their shells, which, as we all know, easily break.

So many of our relationships hinge on whether or not we continually fulfill a set of expectations that we often know about, but sometimes do not. Our fear of honesty and change is rooted in no longer being acceptable or wanted or held in high regard by the people who claim to love us. 

We associate “doing what we want” and “putting ourselves first” with being selfish and with not considering others. We’re taught that what we should want is what makes others happy. But do you want people in your life who secretly don’t want to be there? Is it really surprising that we’re all lost and scrambling and disconnected from ourselves when we’re taught not to follow our instincts and truths for the sake of someone else’s ego? (No.) 

It’s not “mean” to tell the truth, we’re just not used to hearing anything other than what we want to hear. We’ve chalked anything that isn’t coddling and placating and aligned with our most delusional and comforting thoughts to be “wrong.” “Truthfulness” and “meanness” have become synonymous because so long as people aren’t doing and saying what we want to see and hear, they’re wrong, and they’re hurting our feelings by, subconsciously or not, making us feel unaccepted, unwanted, and unvalidated (because we’re only finding those things externally.)

What you have to keep in mind is that the people who shout the loudest about needing to behave a certain way are, undoubtedly, the very people who have most deeply and profoundly had their lives shaped by doing what other people wanted. They listened to the people who shouted loudly at them, and for that, they got emptiness. The very emptiness that their words are echoing through and out of. 

At our core, there is only light. I guarantee there is not one person you wouldn’t love if you knew their true story, their whole story, if you lived a day or a year or a lifetime in their shoes. We can’t expect equality when we’re holding up façades of inequality through dishonesty. How can we expect people to treat all others as equals if they’re constantly feeling beneath someone else?

The root of equality, and understanding equality of the human condition, is being honest about it. 

The only way to change the course of our society, to enlighten the closed minds, to shift the way we perceive gender and race and humanity itself is first and foremost by getting it all on the table. We are talking in circles and affirming only with people who inherently agree with us, rather than trying to understand where the people who don’t are coming from. This is not change. This is ego-steroids. There’s so much value placed around “helping others” and “being selfless” and forcing people to volunteer when they don’t genuinely want to.

The only kindness we grow and support is that which we force on other people, the sort we perceive as correct.

Fake kindness is not worth it. It makes the world worse. It is the root of resentment and ill-will and self-hatred and bigotry and prejudice. 

Often the kindest things we experience in a life are the moments in which someone cared more about who we were than how our feelings would be hurt to tell us the truth that saved us or showed us some otherwise invisible reality. Often the way we are kindest to ourselves is by saying “no.” Often the things we are most grateful for are the ones that were (and are) the most trying, the most deeply compelling, the most wholly changing, even if, at first, they aren’t necessarily comfortable.

So you should say no when you want to say no. You should speak precisely and kindly and with understanding but directness when you see a friend struggling to make a simple choice that will have a profound effect on their entire quality of life, instead of walking away and discussing with everybody else but them. You should leave your house if in it, you’re not wanted. There are ways to pay the rent, there is no way to make somebody love you when they don’t. You should say how you feel before it stays in the darkness so long that it becomes the foundation on which the rest of your life is built — and then collapses through. You should tell the people you love that you love them. You should tell the people you don’t that you don’t, and let them find people who really do. You should dig deep into the untouched abyss of yourself, and see what you come out with. First it will be the unhealed wounds you didn’t know you had. Second it will be the light and love and passion under which they rest. Third it will be the desire to take those things and run with them and build something remarkable. You should evaluate your choices not in light of how other people will perceive them, but how in line with your deepest, truest self they are.

You should rise and say “this is who I am, even if you’ll crucify me for it,” in the very way so many religious and political and social idols and icons have, (even if their fans and followers are the very ones who will do the crucifying.)

You should give to others what you most need. Which, more often than not, is to say the following: you are not loved by everybody, but that does not mean you are not loved at all. You are not the most beautiful, but being the most beautiful is not what matters most. You are bound by nothing but your own fear, so you will not find freedom anywhere but within yourself. Everybody suffers. Not everybody comes out on the other end shimmering and ready to let that light reverberate through the dense and otherwise impermeable darkness. Not everybody has the guts to be truthful, but everybody has the capacity to. And the greatest irony, the most profoundly cunning thing of all, is that the very love and passion and acceptance we are seeking resides nowhere else but within our own unbridled honesty. So go to it, and let it finally breathe. TC mark

image – Margot Gabel


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