Wednesday, March 07, 2007

So here's the thing

Did you ever hear anyone follow the phrase, "Let's be honest (get real, tell the truth, whatever)," with something nice? One of my own little pet peeves, for a long time now, has been what I see as a general tendency to equate "honest" with "unpleasant" (or "unpopular" or "outspoken"). Number one, I think that the whole truth is generally more complex than that, and number two, it seems to me that sometimes people who use this particular phrase are just patting themselves on the back while shooting their mouths off. As in, not taking the time to examine a situation fully, and be accurate about what they say, but just go for the obvious unpleasantness. (I know, I shoot my mouth off a lot, but I'm not proud of it. So now I guess I'm flouting my humility, which is not a whole lot better. God, you just can't win.)

So what made me think of this? I found something in Maya Angelou's book of collected essays, Wouldn't Give Nothing for my Journey Now, that just leaped off the page for me. In her essay, "Brutality Is Definitely Not Acceptable," she gives her response to people who say, "Don't mind me, I'm brutally frank."

...I do mind brutality in any of its guises, and I will not be lured into accepting it merely because the brute asks me to do so.
Thank you, Maya Angelou, from the bottom of my heart. I only wish Ann Coulter could learn from her.

3 Comments:

Blogger Lesley said...

Interesting.... I never thought of it that way. Do I do that? Just wondering.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Zelda said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:22 PM  
Blogger Zelda said...

Yes! Something about the whole, "I don't mince words" mentality really freaks me out. I think Maya Angelou put my jumbled sense of discomfort with it into concise language even though I'm sure she didn't have me in mind when she did it.

Its freaking hard to try to be honest and sincere without being unnecessarily cruel or obnoxiously opinionated. Its just as hard to not come across as passive-aggresive when you're not of the brutally honest (brute being the operative) ilk. Life is hard. I need a nap.

Lesley...no. I've never gotten this vibe from you.

5:23 PM  

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