Yesterday I got into a row with a pal for speaking out my mind. I met this fellow I had known for some time. We used to play Cricket together at times and I happened to catch him, browsing through CDs in one of the stores in a mall and we got talking.
We were still talking when this sweet looking and nicely dressed lass walked in smiling into the same store. I am sure my fellow MALE readers would agree that as per the unwritten law of the man-world, it is so impolite and unmanly if you do not acknowledge the presence of a young woman in the vicinity by giving her a lecher look and a comment at her visible assets. However, the comment is meant more of the person next to you and is more like an assessment for the passing 'queen' rather than being made at the person herself.
I mean personally if I were a woman and if I could not incite even one 'look', out of a group of decent looking guys standing around, it would break my heart and shatter my confidence totally. (Come on girls, you know as well that you don't dress up for any inner satisfaction or for some self-happiness or blah blah blah..... Be honest and admit it that it you dress up only to invite compliments from people around, be it your friends or colleagues or you know whoever.)
Anyway so there I was, standing in that store, looking at this nice young woman who had just glided her way in and I paid my homage, by poking my friend and uttering, "Here comes a 9.5."
For the benefit of readers who come from the other planet (Venus, was it?) Guys have this immaculate ranking system to score in any girl who walks by. It is like a Ms. Sidewalk contest which goes on at all places and at all times and where all young ladies who qualify to be in a certain age group become automatic contestants. (Qualify because nobody would admit her actual age, qualify is more like, you still manage to look like that certain age, even if you are past that figure by 20 years).
So there I was, voicing my scores and details of my ranking system, about who I thought was a perfectly deserving and strong contestant of the Ms. Sidewalk pageant for the day and who in turn turned out to be the girl who my friend had recently got engaged to. Ahem..yeah a sticky situation. Well, I guess that is one wedding I know, I won't be invited to.
Anyway, this whole episode actually got me thinking and a whole new truth about life was revealed to me. I learnt that people actually don't want to hear what goes on in one's head. Despite all your school teachers telling you how honesty is the best policy, nobody wants you to be honest actually.
And also, let us not confuse speaking out one's mind with being truthful. I mean being truthful is one thing but blurting your mind out is an altogether different ball game.
I guess truth and honesty are still tolerable in situations like in those stories we heard about Mahatama Gandhi when he admitted to his father about stealing some money or about George Washington confessing that it was him who had cut the cherry tree. These are like one off instances, probably the next thing George Washington's father would have done is to keep the axe on a higher shelf beyond the reach of his adventurous son and that would have solved the problem once and for all, but what about these little day to day life situations?
The question is what would the world be like if people said whatever they were thinking, all the time, whenever it came to them? I guess it shall just put everyone in a tough spot.
Here are a couple of situations that I am sure most of you might relate to:
Situation 1: Your wife is leaving for her mother's place alone for a few days and you know you have been looking forward to invite the guys over for a beer festival and have some time for yourself. But then just before she leaves she asks you "Honey, what will you do when I am gone?" Tell me what is your standard reply. Is it
A) "I am thinking about having the guys over and getting so drunk that I might just throw up on the rug in the hall and then maybe I shall also dunk your cat in the flush" Or,
B) "Oh, nothing. I was just thinking about how much I shall miss you when you are not there. Maybe I would clean up the mess in my closet."
Situation 2: You have already called it a day and are almost ready to get out of office. Your boss passes you by and is suddenly reminded of the little tweak (normally little tweaks take about 2 hours to finish) to be done to the report you had sent in the morning. You know the appraisals are round the corner. Do you speak your mind and tell him
A) "The little tweak??? Why couldn't you ask me to do it earlier? I have been sitting idle, pretending to look busy all day long and you are reminded of that little tweak only as I pack my bag and am already half way down the hall??" Or, do you say
B) "Oh sure Sir. Not a problem. I shall just do it and would mail you the report again in say next 30 minutes or so."
Situation 3: Your girlfriend asks you if you could care to help her younger brother with his school project that involves going door to door to a fifty houses a day for doing some survey. What do you say,
A) "Door to door with that nosey pest who springs up from some nook and corner every time that I am about to kiss you. You must be out of your mind." Or,
B) "Yeah sure, anytime. I can even ask a friend of mine to help us along with a few of these forms too. (You know you shall just be forging names from telephone book later)"
I am sure there could be a trillion such situations when it is considered so much safer to come up with a soft lie, than to just be honest and blunt and speak one's mind.
In fact the truth of the matter is people don't really expect you to be honest all the time. You go to someone's cremation and you are expected to say that you are sorry. It really doesn't matter if you hated the person from the core of your heart and had come at the funeral to either fulfill a social obligation or maybe just to check if the person is actually dead or not.
I guess, like most of the other things in life, there are no clear answers to this one as well. Truth, Honesty and Lies are all subject to situation and need of the hour. The reference frame of the morality around truth and honesty is quite a blur itself. Yudhishthir got Ashwathama killed with a twisted truth. There have been accounts of people saving someone's life by telling a lie as well. There are actually no clear distinctions on this.
Maybe it is the inherent hypocrisy in human nature that expects one to ridicule and detest people who are caught in a vice. No matter how big a liar you are, you would always advise your children to be truthful.
I shall close this post without being judgmental on either the virtues of truth or the vices of dishonesty. The point which amuses me actually is the way no one totally expects you to be honest and truthful at all times. I am reminded of this little joke which I read somewhere which exactly brings to the fore what I wish to say here. It goes like this..
A married man and his secretary were having a torrid affair. One afternoon they couldn't contain their passion, so they rushed over to her place where they spent the afternoon making out. When they were finished, they fell asleep, not waking until 8 o'clock. They got dressed quickly.
Then the man told his secretary to take his shoes outside and rub them on the lawn. Bewildered, she did as he asked, thinking him pretty weird.
The man finally got home and his wife met him at the door. Upset, she asked where he'd been. The man replied, "I cannot tell a lie. My secretary and I are having an affair. Today we left work early, went to her place, spent the afternoon making love, and then fell asleep. That's why I'm late."
The wife looked at him, took notice of his shoes and yelled, "I can see those are grass stains on your shoes. YOU DAMN LIAR! You've been playing golf again, haven't you?"
So much for honesty and speaking one's mind.