A good friend of mine once had a quote as her signature line that I found extremely clever as well as profound: "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss)
Many times this week, it seems that I've pondered issues of self revelation. One situation has to do with a friend's family member who is terminal. The second situation had to do with another friend's help in finding an apartment. In both situations certain subjects were avoided out of regard for the feelings of another.
There seem to be two schools of thought here. One extreme would be the traditional WASP family where real feelings and emotions are never brought to the forefront but always just under the surface. On the other end of the spectrum would be the stereotypical "let everything hang out" family where everything is held up to the light, examined and painfully disected. Should you put your feelings out on the table as soon as possible? Or is it sometimes for the best to let some things go unsaid? And if you choose to let things slide for the sake of peace and harmony, at what point do you "stop being nice and start being real?" (to trivally quote from "The Real World")
For the longest time I didn't discuss my struggle with homosexuality with my parents because I didn't want to hurt them. However, over time, I realized that by not having that conversation, I was hurting them in another way altogether. Yes, coming out was unpleasant and it will be a day I'll remember for probably the rest of my life. It is my hope on that day, my parents saw me for the person I really am, not the person they wanted me to be.
Another day where self revelation was ultimately a good thing was when my dad and I took at trip to Oklahoma together, just the two of us. On the way down, my dad brought up some painful things that I had always wanted to discuss but never had because I didn't want to hurt his feelings. After the dust had settled, we emerged seeing each other with more respect and love. Our relationship grew.
There is always the possibility of our lives being cut short and we will miss have that conversation that we never could bring ourselves to have. That seems really tragic to me. So I guess question is this: are we avoiding being cruel to be kind or could our kindness unintentionally be cruel?