Make It Impossible To Walk Through Your Park Peacefully

Some time ago, I resolved to do a thing dangerous in our era.

I resolved to speak truthfully to the people I met. If they didn’t like it, I would stop, and let the conversation wrap up shortly thereafter, to allow us both to spend our time in ways we’d each prefer.

It’s not really that dangerous once you get used to it.

A few people may find contempt for you, but in all likelihood, they were never people whose admiration you would want anyway. The contempt of some can be taken as a compliment.

Fortitude: American Re... Crenshaw, Dan Buy New $24.26 (as of 02:51 UTC - Details) When you speak truthfully, you give an often welcome, much in demand, offer to a fellow human. You invite them to speak truthfully back to you, and the way that this invitation tears down walls is nearly unmatchable.

You don’t even need to speak an invitation. You don’t need to acknowledge what you are doing. You merely need to take a risk and speak a single, truthful sentence that you believe. Sometimes, you might need to speak a second, truthful sentence so that the other person has a moment to get over the shock of someone speaking truthfully to them.

You must forgive them for any hesitation to engage immediately. It can take a moment in the empire of lies, where truth is treason, to confirm for oneself that what one thinks is happening is really happening: a person is being honest and inviting the same.

Courage is contagious.

Sincerity can be too.

But then be ready. You might not have time to get a word in edgewise for a while. It might be time for you to be quiet and listen, because it may have been some time since someone sincerely wanted to communicate with that person. And that means you may be party to a special opportunity: you might hear some suppressed sincerity that has long gone unheard.

That shaken bottle might become uncorked with vigor. The more vigor, the more that person likely wanted this sincerity you were able to offer. The more the person needed this honesty.

And if life gets tough, don’t be surprised if they come looking for you again. If life gets complex, don’t be surprised if they come asking. Don’t be surprised if they just need someone sincere to honestly share their view of the world with.

Humans need sincerity. Humans need honesty.  Humans need courage. Without those, humans cannot come to know truth, cannot come to engage reality, will not be able to reconcile a life that is anything more than a fairy tale, that they are expected to be entertained through, and to have no explanation for why that fairy tale did not bring them fulfillment.

American culture is particularly susceptible to this.

The lies are wound tight. The structures against what is permissible to say, share, or think are thick.

As Dante wrote in the unfinished Convivio (The Banquet), those lacking guidance from their elders early in life are more easily lost to the whims of the world.

We live in an era where the elder generations, have overwhelmingly abrogated the duty of passing on wisdom from the past to those in the generations that succeed them.

This does not affect all, of course, but this is a difficult-to-miss trend that affects so many, and across multiple generations. Google Archipelago: Th... Rectenwald, Michael Buy New $12.36 (as of 03:58 UTC - Details)

The wisdom cannot be passed by pop culture. It is passed down one-on-one, one trusted person at a time. This is not to be mistaken for the guru of eastern tradition, that leads a man along a set path throughout life. This is the path of the westerner: where needed wisdom can be found at various points on one’s individual journey, except the people who today line that journey – parents, clergy, instructors, family, neighbors – have not done the work to gain the wisdom, and don’t willingly share what little wisdom they have.

We are often left to our equally lost peers to sort this mess out, stumbling through the darkness together, grasping at the slightest hints of truth, vowing to never let the succeeding generation feel so lost, so cut adrift by their elders.

The most vital inheritance handed down from the previous generation is not monetary, and neither is the most vital inheritance handed down to the next generation monetary. Yet, the imperative of our era is increasingly to speak only the trite, the inoffensive, the intentionally bland-to-the-point-of-being-dishonest statements.

Political correctness is a political attack on sincerity, in hopes of stopping people from speaking that with which the censor disagrees. All censorship, in all ages, is an attempt to silence truth. There’s no need to silence lies. Lies can be easily laughed off. Fake news leaves the fake news source incredible.

Anyone who will censor seeks to attack sincerity, courage, and honesty, seeks to limit the ability of two people to communicate, seeks to limit the mutual pursuit of truth. Seeks to do the most anti-social of activities: to stop individuals in a culture from stumbling together through the hardships, joys, and lessons of this thing we call life.

It is the exact opposite of a debate. It is the exact opposite of shared exploration. It is the exact opposite of love. It is the exact opposite of reveling in what it is like to be a human.

It is a dirty trick, played on what so many fundamentally want, probably what every one of us, in our healthiest of moments, fundamentally wants: to know at least as much truth as needed to negotiate life as well as possible.

You refuse to let that attack on the social take place when you speak a truthful sentence to a stranger.

You announce your sincerity.

You allow them to join you there.

And in this very tense time in human existence, a time that barely feels real, you do your fellow human a great service by showing a little courage and speaking a true statement.

So many live lives in which they feel they could collapse under the weight of the neglected reality, under the weight of the lies.

Don’t be surprised if in a situation like that, a person reacts sharply to your invitation to sincerity, perhaps even finds themselves crying – in sorrow, in relief, in anger, in joy, in some combination. The Chronic Fatigue Sy... Ortleb, Charles Best Price: $16.55 Buy New $17.95 (as of 05:07 UTC - Details)

Do not be surprised, either, if a daily habit of honesty with those you encounter, will, days or weeks from now, build into a ministry of honesty.

In some places, in the midst of the lockdown, the parks, the grocery stores, the sidewalks are the only places where people might even come into each other’s orbit, with even that being prohibited in many jurisdictions.

If you continue bravely in such a moment and do the natural thing, deep down, the natural thing for a human, and take a risk to connect honestly with this stranger, who probably laughs a lot like you, and probably hurts a lot like you too – then you will be so richly rewarded.

In a moment of crisis like the one we are in, you will barely be able to walk through the park peacefully.

But it will be a blissful walk through the park.

The people who run into you will stop you. Be the most honest voice in their lives, and you will be surprised at how many times each day, you hear that a person had been hoping to run into you, especially in a moment of crisis – personal, or global, like the one we face.

So many lies are poured onto a person each day. So many taboos seek to prevent them from reacting with honesty. So much pressure and manipulation surrounds them.

The people around you – those known to you and those unknown to you – need your courage, want your sincerity, long for someone with honesty, who they can be honest back to. This is a sharp contrast to the way in which many go through each day: being seen as an annoying object, whose truth needs silencing, no matter what manipulations and contortions it takes to silence that truth.

That fellow human needs that truth from you. Needs that sincerity. Needs that courage.

And that courage is so contagious.

Please give it to them. You will be repaid many times over.