Gestalt therapist Brad Blanton, Ph.D., believes that lying is the major cause of human stress and advocates strict truthfulness as the key to achieving intimacy and calm. On the surface, most of us would whole-heartedly agree with that prescription. However, beneath the surface, where we harbor unspoken truths, opinions, feelings, and thoughts, we also harbor a deep-seated fear of being completely honest.
In truth, the world does not reward honesty and truthfulness. We are more interested in the stories and the meaning of the stories that we tell than coming clean with what is really going on around us and inside of us. Such a tradeoff is more of a knockoff of Truth than unadorned reality. We can decide that questioning a government is unpatriotic, and never get to the truth; decide that harmony in the family usurps honesty and the dis-ease festers; spare our partner's feelings and communicate our unmet needs through hurtful or irrational behavior.
Our tendency to withhold the truth is costly at the micro and macro level of existence. We can poison our minds, our families our communities, our corporations or our earth when we fail to disclose the "inconvenient" yet blatant truths before us and between us.
Admittedly, I may not be up to the level of radical honesty that Blanton proposes in his book (Radical Honesty). It seems a bit harsh, though, in the end, it may be the kindest approach to relationships. I do know that I am ready for a greater level of honesty in my life. I feel the tug of greater transparency as a way out of the suffering inside my mind that is so protective of my vulnerabilities, foibles, and insecurities. There is a part of you and me (the whole being) that knows our anxiety is self-imposed; that the obstacles to our peace come from a persistent unwillingness to tell it like it is.
Sometimes, we take cover in the beatific field of spiritual truth, where we affirm that the fire of the Holy One will burn off the illusions we hold. Of course, in the realm of the infinite, falsehoods can do no harm. But then again, you and I are trying to live on earth, and we must bring Heaven to this life, through the choices we make, moment to moment. Every moment presents a choice point; offering the road to greater truth, liberation, and peace, or the well-traveled road, that is cushier, popular, seemingly safe, yet only leads us further from home.
Living with a higher standard of truth and honesty does not come without cost. It is the narrow way, and we will feel the squeeze if we pursue its demands. To the wide way of situational ethics, myths and superstitions, telling the truth is radical and revolutionary. Yet the day comes, and you've known it or will know it, when only the truth will unlock the mind, open the heart, and free the soul. At that moment, what appeared to be radical becomes the only sane way to live.