Whoa, Hoss, That’s Not How I See It.
Ethics, the truth, stories, parables, statistics, projections, damned lies and friends. I was having a serious conversation about this topic over beer and Tacos in an Irish Pub a few days ago. As serious a conversation as you can have about the truth over (Shrimp) Tacos washed down with Guinness in an Irish restaurant in Wisconsin. We were coming up to Father’s day, having a casual conversation about what constitutes lying, what is ok, what isn’t, and at what point a lie is ok. My position is you go moment by moment and decide as you go what suits the situation. I think that’s called situational ethics. I learned after 35 years in the insurance industry, reading and hearing varying accounts of the same set of circumstances, that there is seldom one clear truth. Sometimes it takes 12 honest people to make their best guess, and most of the time, they get at least part of it wrong.
My friend, whose idea it was to go to an Irish Pub in Wisconsin for Tacos – which is at the very least an oxymoron, if not an outright lie, says she would never lie, except to protect a friend’s feelings. Now that I have had a few days to think about that, I really want to pull back on the reins and say “Whoa!!”. So nice lady, who I consider a very, very good friend, sometime confidant, and platonic sister figure in my life, how many times have you “protected” me from myself, or failed to ask me to re-examine my thinking on a person, idea or relationship, when what I really needed was a dope slap?
I think that’s risky. Hans Christian Andersen probably had a less tangled view of this concept when he wrote The Emperor’s New Clothes, But I think our true friends are the ones who nudge us back onto the blacktop when we have taken to the shoulders of life. Those who tell us when we have no pants on, or when our fly is open. When we want to believe something so bad that our friends, who have a better view of the situation, are hesitant to say, “Whoa, Hoss, that’s not how I see it . . . ” we might be overpricing the friendship and understating it’s durability.
My Dad was renowned as a storyteller, yarn spinner – but a truthful man. One day he was spinning a story as we drove down a country road, as usual about his version of his idyllic youth, and I point blank asked him, “Is that a TRUE story, Daddy?” Those steely blues twinkled for a moment and he said, “Naw, son, but it should have been” There was a lesson in his story. That was how he taught. It was untruthful, but I don’t think it was a lie. I was the kid, he was the Dad. He got to decide what I needed to know, so if you’re not my dad, give it to me straight. I don’t want to live my life as a fantasy.