tell the truth

Jordan Peterson wrote this book called 12 Rules for Life that I’ve been working my way through this summer.  I’d requested it from the library several months ago, and was put on a waiting list with 72 other people ahead of me.  Since the library didn’t own their own copy of the book, they’d had to request it from another library.  At some point, they must have decided to just buy a copy for themselves, because the one I have now actually belongs to our library, which means I can renew it as much as I need until I’m done.

Does anyone actually care about anything I just wrote there?  Probably not, but for me, it was the first thing that started coming to mind when I sat down to type.  I don’t know how I feel about the book, even though I’m just about done with it.  I thought it was too long, and that Peterson went off into too many rambles.  On the other hand, I don’t see anything wrong with it.  I get the need to just get the words out, to have so much on your mind that the only way to stay sane, healthy, and whole, is to put the words somewhere. If that was the book he needed in order to tell the truth, then good for him for writing it.

Tell the truth–or at least, don’t lie.  I think of all twelve of his “rules”, this is the one that spoke to me the most, and is going to make the most difference in my life.  When Peterson talks about telling the truth, he says something along the lines of not saying anything that your inner voice would disagree with. For example, don’t say something just because that’s what you think you’re supposed to say.  I do this a lot.  I never considered it to be not telling the truth, but trying to stick with what “the truth” is, no matter what I think.  Isn’t this actually the faithful and courageous thing to do?

Not according to Peterson. Not telling the truth is destructive, and literally starts to eat you up inside, eventually eating up the outside too.  Tell the truth.  Be honest.  Sometimes though, being honest feels wrong to me, and in those cases, I don’t think you should do it.

I’ve been trying to write here and there for a Lutheran women’s blog that started a few years ago.  I appreciated the chance to be able to write in a more “official” setting, as well as get experience working with an editor.  I think that has been the best part of the whole thing.  I love seeing how collaborating with another person can make a piece so much stronger.  I’ve also been learning about give and take in the editing process, when to click “accept edit”, when to add/delete what the editor suggests, and also when to stand up for myself and say “I’d prefer to leave this part exactly as is, and here’s why…”

That being said, I’ve also had some disappointing and frustrating experiences, and I really just want to give up sometimes and be done with it, thinking it no longer to be a good or productive use of my time.  I feel a loyalty to my Lutheran sisters, and yet, at the same time, I don’t seem to be able to connect much with them.  Writing for me is still very much a therapeutic process, but when I try to formulate it into an article that other people are actually supposed to read, it comes out too different.  Or it doesn’t come at all.

One of the worst feelings I’ve had with writing for the public is when something with your name on it ends up saying something, no matter how small, that your inner voice did not agree with.  That, and when you didn’t say the one thing you really wanted to say, because you doubted it.  I think this is part of what Peterson is getting at.  He uses more serious examples, like the people in WWII who let Hitler get away with more and more stuff until, before you know it, people were being exterminated in concentration camps.

All because people didn’t speak up,

or rationalized away something that bugged them,

or, in other words, because they didn’t tell the truth.







One thought on “tell the truth

  1. “Sometimes though, being honest feels wrong to me, and in those cases, I don’t think you should do it.”

    Odd thing about honesty I have found. It is about me saying what I think is “honest”. And that changes over time. Just as everyone else’s “honest” does as well. What I took from your lovely post is “I don’t have to accept every invitation to every argument”. And I have come to call that decision-making “personal integrity”. 🙂

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