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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Let the truth sting: Learn to be honest

Published: October 31, 2008
Section: Opinions

Throughout my first few years at Brandeis, I’ve learned a lot about human nature. For one thing, we will always protect ourselves first before helping someone else. We will revert back to our baser instincts when faced with a difficult decision and generally take the easy way out. We are emotional beings and will often make choices which we wouldn’t have if we were thinking rationally. In spite of all that, I think the most painful thing I’ve learned is that we are all liars.

You would think that as an actor, which in some ways is really just “lying for a living,” I would have come to this conclusion earlier. However, I have a certain naïveté about people and I always try to rationalize what they say or do into something not so bad when in fact, it is just as hurtful and painful as I try not to believe. Because I have this outlook on life and as I make it a habit to be as truthful as possible, I generally walk away from these situations with less faith in humanity and a chunk taken out of my happy little existence.

A friend of mine, who knows me very well—sometimes better than I do—can always tell when I’m making a feeble attempt to be dishonest. Every time I try, he just sees through it and waits until I give up and shamefacedly speak the truth. I can never get away with anything because I wear my heart on my sleeve, so to speak. Consequently, I trust too much, hide too little, and get hurt more than I’d like to admit. But the truly sad part is, I never learn. My Disney-esque blind faith in humanity, which hasn’t been completely destroyed yet, continues to lead me into painful situations.

I believe that even though the truth hurts, the combination of lies that people use to cover it and the subsequent revelation of the hidden truth is much more painful.

Even just the realization that one has been lied to in the first place is enough to make an already terrible truth worse. Trust me, the truth is always better than the lies we tell others in order to hide it and the ones we tell ourselves so we feel like we’re protecting them or being the better person, hiding the scary truth from them. There is a quote from a popular television drama, Grey’s Anatomy, which I think sums up this point: “Protecting me? That’s not how to be my person. That’s not what we do. You know that.”

It’s an interesting way to put it: “that’s not how to be my person.” If you are lucky enough to be someone’s person, you protect them from the greater pain and the big bad world with the truth the first time around. You consider their feelings. You take a hiatus from the pastime of lying. Yes, we are still all liars on some level, but when we substitute honesty once in a while, this Disney princess faith in humanity is slowly rebuilt. So why not let the truth sting? I promise, it’ll hurt less than the alternative.