Some people believe that the key ingredient to society’s cohesion is lies. I tend to agree. All the opinions we don’t share are the opinions that would make us enemies. The Invention of Lying did a fair job of explaining the benevolence of a proper lie, but outside of Billy Joel’s “Honesty” (maybe the movie He Got Game), I can’t think that I’ve seen a recent, complete artistic expression of something we all inherently, if not expressively, know.
Only when someone has told you that you have done/been wrong do you know they love you.
My parents kept my backside a rosy hue for a good portion of my childhood (alright, so maybe I kept it that way), and that righteous discipline still ranks in my top five proofs that I’ve been loved. Most human beings aren’t sadists. Creating pain is painful, and we dislike doing it. So whether it’s the peer investment of an emotional intervention or the authoritative investment of physical discipline (via lockdown, beating, hobby prohibition, etc), confronting another’s flaws is an unsavory task. A task that no one would undertake for that guy they only talk to by the coffee maker, much less a stranger. So what causes us to be honest with a loved one? Why do we want to fix them? I believe an argument can be made for the motivator with the worst publicist of all-time: selfishness. Selfishness is the most pure motivation ever born into man, and it makes sustained, corrective honesty the best empirical evidence of love, far better that blind support.
“Til death do us part” is the widely accepted phrase to define true love’s proper temporal expression. It ain’t real if it ain’t forever. Does everyone believe this? No, but I don’t think there’s anything that everyone believes. It makes sense to me though. Here’s the complete list of things I will love until death undoes us: the Kansas Jayhawks men’s basketball team, the Kansas City Chiefs, my family, cream cheese, Feginn the cat, a handful of friends, Eric Church’s Sinners Like Me album, superhero stories, Jesus, and thinking about trying to learn from possible mistakes. I promise you, if any of those things ever truly lost their way, I’d do what’s in my power to correct them. And you know why? Because I’m living with them forever! It’s summarized in a single, complicated truth. If a person truly loves something, they will stand by it forever, and if a person knows they are going to be in a situation forever, they will try to make that situation as good as it can possibly be.
It’s a bit paradoxical, but all the best things are. And the true lovers are always pouring out their honesty onto those things (even when that honesty is dead wrong. Have you listened to sports talk radio after a loss? How about a family fight? Someone’s out there trying prevent cream cheese from being the “you are what you eat” poster boy. I bought Soft Paws for Feginn for a reason. Ever seen friends fight (nightmarish honesty)? In fact, the only thing from that list that never causes me pain is the Sinners Like Me album, unless you count how “Hard Way” or “These Boots” can hit me the right way at the wrong moment.
Ignoring that cream cheese makes me fat or that Feginn’s dickish clawing hurts would prevent me from having a fulfilling relationship with either. That’s why I always think of discipline and intervention as an investment. I put in the pain of corrective action now and hope to reap the benefits of an improved situation until it’s all over, until the worms are thinking about me as the “you are what you eat” poster boy.
The flipside advice I’ve found beyond this “selfishness reaps love reaps honesty” business is this: before you speak to someone’s face about they’ve done bad or wrong, you’d better make sure you love them. Otherwise, you’re just prick.
Your mother dresses you funny and nobody likes you. Love,