Learning to be really honest

We all kid and con ourselves. We present our actions in terms of how other things or people caused us to respond in a certain way. Yes we deceive ourselves.

It isn’t done with any malicious intent, merely designed to make what we have done more acceptable.

However there is another side to this when we create unreasonable levels of self loathing.


Two news items today attracted my attention both highlighted the issues we have when it comes to being honest with ourselves. They both highlighted the extremes that unrealistic guilt can create self loathing.

Society has accepted for more than 50 years that those with genuine mental health issues are at times irrational. A consequence of the irrational thoughts can be self harm and the ultimate outcome suicide.

In both cases young men took their own lives because they couldn’t find balance.

Reactions of others

The reaction of other close friends and relations are critical. The last words one loved one said to another in one case were: “I hate you!” As a result of those words and the magnitude of the incident the young man was taken into hospital care for a few days.

He wasn’t able to reconcile this whole, so as soon as he was released he took his own life.

At the time those words of hate were truly meant. The sense of loathing was shared but the impact never calculated.

Hate the crime not the criminal

Incidents where we have been hurt by someone are often resolved by a few days and sensitivity. However where a serious accident or crime is committed and the unintended consequence is life changing our reactions take time to reconcile.

The common course is to see the individual as the crime. The woman who murders her husband in the heat of an emotional outburst is immediately branded a murderer, terrible person. There is a tendency to look for mitigating circumstances.

The roles reverse mitigation is difficult even when the wife proves to have been abusive.

What this highlights is we benchmark response by gender, scale and consequence. We enter a judgement based on our collective prejudice.

Let history explain

In the UK hundreds of former IRA members have been able to come to terms with their involvement in an armed struggle. The victims and their families have been forced to accept the adjustment. History will use its retrospective lens to evaluate the scale. In time individuals disappear and life goes on.

There was a case in the 20th Century for dividing Germany and Italy into smaller countries and preventing their rearmament. More would have supported that but Political Power struggles created the modern European state. 100,000,000 people lost their lives and when we are honest we have to say nothing has changed in the world. In fact many will say it is worse.

So Really Honest

As a society humanity is failing on many levels. Let’s not loath ourselves for our collective sins!

We condemn ourselves when the law of unintended consequences really applies.

We condemn others based on the scale of injury and hurt not on the presence of malice and cruelty (for example in the UK you can serve a longer prison sentence for fraud than murder).

Learning to be honest is a real challenge because it is an admission of inadequacy but only from that starting point can we really move forward. Here is where empathy, compassion, charity and love for others is nurtured.

Yes many days when depressed my mind focuses on the failures and shortcomings in my life. Leaves me feeling a level of self disgust but in the scheme of things this is my burden.

So when we understand that another may be adversely affected by our response to their failure be really honest, say what you feel and what you mean but remember hate the act not the person because more often than not – there but for the grace of god go I


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