Do you prefer that you be right, or that you be happy? A Course In Miracles
Right from childhood we have been conditioned to give the right response. We were taught to identify and refer to our parents and grandparents and siblings in the appropriate manner. No sooner we learnt to talk we were deluged with a string of learning activities right from the alphabets to little poems and possibly some prayers too. The focus was to ensure we got the learning right. It is no wonder therefore that we become fiercely competitive and at all cost be right be it in getting a math’s problem right or winning a debate or an argument.
While there is nothing wrong in being right and possibly get acknowledgment for once powerful intellect, there are times when we must make exceptions if not for anything else but to remain happy and cheerful. If this sounds like a paradox, imagine the plight of a teacher who has to tell a very hyper mother that her child is unable to cope up and will fail. While the easiest thing is to just tell the truth upfront a good teacher will visualize the effect of her blunt statement on the hapless child and the sensitive mother. Thereafter the teacher will convey the message in a much more subtle manner that may tone down the reality and even possibly divert attention to reflect the teachers own limitations in meeting the student’s special needs. If the mother and child have reconciled to the reality without terrible emotional distress the teacher would be delighted that she did a wonderful job without out rightly spilling the beans.
A similar predicament with more even more serious implications is faced by doctors who have to diagnose life threatening illness and convey it to the patients and the close relatives. The dilemma they face is how to convey the terrible news without frightening the patient to death or creating pandemonium amongst the close relatives and loved ones. That apart, doctors will have to answer numerous questions most of it frivolous from a professional point of view but terribly important to those who stare death in the face. Questions like what are the chances of recovery to what are the alternatives to the current treatment to where can we locate another expert might be futile questions to answer for the doctor but it would be awful to brush these questions aside and bluntly retort that there is no hope. Despite the reality, the doctors conscious will be at ease if he gives answers that assuage the patient and the loved ones without remotely hinting at any false hopes.
Coming back to ordinary mortals, we too face a similar dilemma often. Imagine your son wanting to miss school because he is up the whole night watching the world cup football matches. He wants you to give a suitable explanation to the school management explaining the child’s absence. You don’t want to lie and set a bad precedent and yet you know that telling the truth might put your child in a big spot of trouble. If you substitute the son with yourself watching the matches and not going to work how will you explain your absence to the boss? Imagine your spouse preparing an exotic dish as a surprise. Unfortunately you have not liked the same and your wife is hovering around seeking a compliment. How will you keep her happy and also ensure that she won’t repeat the dish again?
While there are no clear cut answers to many of these dilemma, the line of action must be oriented towards seeing that the reply does not upset people including yourself and at the same time you are able to gently touch upon the truth. Perhaps a white lie maybe justified in these situations.
Remember: “Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights.” John Wooden
- Do read this wonderful short story by Somerset Maugham titled Mr.Knowall http://maugham.classicauthors.net/knowall It is a perfect example of today’s quote.
- Your best friend has an annoying habit that your family members dislike. You daughter threatens to tell your friend on his face about the behavior that they dislike unless you take some action to inform your friend and get him to correct himself. How will you handle the situation?
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