Gift of Truth

Me: “You are racist.”

She: “Racism exists.  You are choosing to participate in racist ways.”

Which one is better?

My comment was used in part of a longer example in discussing discrimination and reconciliation.  She picked up on my hypothetical comment and suggested how I might say it better, citing word choice as a large, contributing factor in bringing people together or separating them further.  I am grateful for her instruction and suggestion.

This brings up a wider issue for me, however.  Sometimes, in our quest to be unoffensive so that our message is heard more clearly, political correctness takes over and the original emotion and content gets lost.  We are so afraid of offending another that we almost don’t address the issue at hand.  We get caught up in a war of words, mincing and parsing and splitting hairs until we don’t even know what we were talking about to begin with.  We’re no more or less frustrated than if we had chosen to say it in the more confrontational, less nice way except that now we’re not talking about anything of substance.  We’re just cranky and confused.

What’s the point?

Well, her point was that if we frame the conversation in messages of freedom, people are more likely to choose a different way.  She used “freedom language”; I did not.  Because we are friends, I know her heart and her care on this topic so I consider feedback valuable.  And yet, the way I saw it, I wasn’t eliminating the freedom to choose in my statement.  Instead, she was highlighting the doing, while I was highlighting the being.

Back to my original question–which one is better?  My maint point in the larger context of this conversation was this: why is her way of putting it more worthy of consideration than mine?  Isn’t the truth and responsiblity of the message the same?  The goal is that the person to whom the comment is directed would see the “error” of his/her way when it comes to racism.  Why then should it matter so much how it is expressed?

My wholehearted belief is that if we can’t accept truth because of the package it comes in, then we don’t really love truth.

Let me say it again: If we can’t accept truth because of the package it comes in, then we don’t really love truth.

We have so many overly sensitive, easily offended people in our society that refuse to accept responsibility for any number of things unless they are addressed in such a manner that there is no possible way to cause discomfort, conviction, friction, or offensiveness.

Grant it, I don’t think we should be flippant.  We should consider our words and do the best we can to be kind and loving when confronting issues.  We should try to be as inoffensive as possible, but we should also take into account that no matter how gracious we put some things, sometimes we will not be heard–the intended receiver simply does not want to hear, does not want to listen.  Furthermore, sometimes, in our quest to be “nice” our message loses its meaning and therefore it loses its power to transform.

In my own life, it has often been the hard things to swallow, that I had to chew on the most and therefore had a lot more time to think about what I needed to address and change, that inspired the greatest steps toward transformation.

If we are seekers of and responders to Truth, then the packaging of it is inconsequential, the wrapping doesn’t matter.  Sure, we want to hear it in such a way that seems sweet, but hard things to hear rarely are sweet.  Instead, while the message may be bitter, it’s the change that takes place when we wisely respond to Truth that the sweetness is then enjoyed.

Truth will never lead us astray but the packaging may.  How much do you love Truth?  Are you willing to accept it no matter how it may be wrapped?


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