I am trying very hard to be bona-fide, authentic, honest. We live in a culture that doesn't promote honesty above all other things. We promote other values, but honesty is not one of them. I have met people from other cultures that are very honest and can tell you what they are thinking without worry of being too harsh or too open. We use the sentence, "You hurt my feelings" when someone is too direct or too critical but are we many times just saying, "I am not comfortable with your level of honesty or directness?" Or "I can't handle the truth?"
We try really hard to teach children to be honest. Don't lie. Don't cheat. Don't be disingenuous. But we also teach them to be mindful of others feelings. We were at a playdate and one of my kids told a little girl that she was not as fast running as my child was and the little girl started crying and said that her feelings had been hurt. The truth was that my child was faster, so what is the fix? To tell the other child to accept the truth, that she is a slower runner? Or to tell my child to avoid honesty to save an over sensitive playmate?
I remember hanging out with this guy when I was in my 20's and I was really crazy about him. We had been hanging out for 6 months and he had never tried to kiss me, hug me or anything. We had been to countless movies, dinners, hikes, drinks, played games, you name it, nothing was going on! Finally after much coaching from my friends and his friends I decided to ask him what was going on. So I asked him straight out, I knew he wasn't gay, why was he not making a move? And he looked me straight in the eye and asked if he could be completely honest. And then he said, "I'm just not into you like that. I like you as a friend and I don't like you romantically and I want to just be friends, is that ok?" And while my pride took a momentary kick in the face, we went on to be the best of friends for a very long time. I valued his honesty like crazy, it was so refreshing.
My youngest child was going to a Co-op Preschool and for those of you that are not familiar with what this means, it is a Preschool that is parent/teacher driven. That means that each week I went to preschool and worked hard and helped participate in my child's education in a hands on style. One day we were at circle time and I was sitting between two little girls that liked to chat and giggle to keep them focused on the Teacher's lesson when one of the little girls took the opportunity to voice very loudly, "You are really fat! I like that you are soft right there" and she proceeded to lay on top of me like I was her human pillow. She was only 3 or 4 years old but it was adorable, honest and funny and I laughed until I cried.
It might be hard to do, being honest instead of being kind. But in the long run, aren't you doing a good thing? Won't the person who you are being honest with thank you in the long run? Even if they hold it against you for a few days, months, years, forever? Or should we work hard to protect people from what is staring them in the face?
I honestly don't know which is better, I honestly don't.