On the Policy of Truth

The wonderful thing about a blog is that I decide what I get to write and when! If I leave you on tenterhooks, you have to wait.

It’s fantastic.

I’d like to shift over to my thoughts on a particular book that I was encouraged to read by a man we shall call ‘Captain America’. Whenever I would speak with this man about any trials and tribulations that I might be experiencing, he would tell me to read “Loving What Is” by Bryon Katie. He said it so often and SO often at the wrong points in our conversations that I got fed up and finally read it. Once I read it, I understood so much more about Captain America and why he acted the way he did.

And it infuriated me.

Like most self-help books, this one focused on moving past the pain and discomfort that we experience in our lives. At the beginning, I thought, “Hell yeah, who doesn’t want to move past all of those shitty things?” But as I read the book through to completion, I realized that the basis of the book, which is to question all negative feelings as they enter our brains and work to dispel them, was a completely non-empathetic way to approach life on a planet with approximately 7.5 billion people on it.

One of the parts of the book said “You are not responsible for how others feel. You can’t make them feel a certain way and they can’t make you feel a certain way.” (I’m paraphrasing. Read the book.) While this logic works well on a second-grade level, it refuses to go further into how to treat others. It focused on what some Buddhists would call “detachment” from expectations of others. While Bryon Katie focused on this “enlightenment” to show people how to stop suffering in their thinking, it completely disassociates from kindness by hiding behind truth.

Truth is important, of course. However, true kindness is more important to me. You might ask, true kindness? Well, true kindness is choosing to suffer in a way you can handle to assist someone else in their happiness. If everyone practiced the moral codes of Buddhism, which include yamas and niyamas, they would be able to understand this idea better.

My interpretation of the moral code of conduct is to practice non-violence, truthfulness, non-coveting, non-stealing, and moderation. Bryon Katie focuses on truthfulness as a way to convert a person’s negative feelings. For example, “He did hurt you by ignoring you?” “Did he really hurt you?” “What happens when you are hurt?” “Who would you be without that hurt?” Then she proceeds to change it around. “Or did you hurt you by expecting to not be ignored?”

Again, I’m paraphrasing, but you get the gist. The author turns every feeling into a way to detach from expectations and release people from harming you. That’s all great, but what about justifying your own shitty behavior? Using Bryon Katie’s method, you release yourself from personal responsibility for how other people feel when you treat them a certain way because you are “acting in truth.” It’s a complete sham and it explains why Captain America acts the way he acts (full story to come) as he completely bought into this self-help book.

So acting only in truthfulness tips the scales away from kindness (non-violence). True kindness is swallowing some of your own pain to ensure that others are more comfortable, for a lack of a better word.

Captain America asked why I would want to be such a martyr and accept feeling poorly to help someone else out. Why not? If I can handle the hurt and it won’t harm the other person, why wouldn’t I try to take someone else’s pain? He rolled his eyes.

I stand by that belief. However, I waiver when I think about how I don’t seem to have healthy emotional boundaries when I keep allowing people back into my heart. Perhaps Captain America is right? Perhaps I need to stand only by truth and ignore kindness; stop being the martyr.

Or perhaps Captain America can shove his non-empathetic mind up his ass.

I haven’t decided yet.

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