As children, how many of us have been told the following
- Honesty is the best policy
- Be courteous and polite towards other around you
- Never keep anyone waiting, for politeness is the punctuality of kings
I am sure that most of us have heard such words as we stumble through our formative years and onwards, but what if we are pushed too far?
Most if us know just how far to go, and if go too far, and if we offer gratuitous insults or uninvited brutish honesty, some kind soul will generally inform us of where we have gone wrong.
It is true that the methodology of such a correction has varied over the years, and has ranged from a quick thump with a club through to the more civilised corrective measures of our day, but, effectively, the modus operandi has stayed the same. If you slip outside the accepted norm as regards polite society, someone informs you of that fact and requests that certain adjustments or withdrawals are made. As the transgressor you are left with a choice of complying with such a request , or informing the donor of such advice where or when he or she can stick their words.
This is when you hesitate for you recall the words spoken to you as a chid. Honesty is the best policy, you recall your parents teaching you, but what of politeness and courtesy, or of the punctuality?
On balance the two sets seem incompatible, and yet we manage to survive.
In essence we lie, or at least block the release of certain contentious information, and boy oh boy do we do it well. We call it telling white lies, diplomacy, and kindness, or all manner of other things, but if we are unlucky, or the Gods are against us, we are forced to confront a situation which we would much rather avoid.
A couple I know have recently faced such a situation, and their dilemma is one which I would like to explore here. First of all though I would ask you to look at the picture to the left of you.
In the foreground we see two individuals who seem to be engaging with each other quite acceptably. She is maybe looking a trifle bored, and he is maybe wondering why she has a flower garden stuck on the side of her head, but look at the guy in the middle, how much is he enjoying the “do”?
I would suggest he is bored out of his skull, and would much rather be anywhere else than here, but should he cut and run? Should he be open and honest about his disinterest and his feeling about all those around him, or be ever so polite and sociable and attempt to while away the rest of the day?
I don’t know what he decided to as the day ground onwards, but this is the problem that is facing the couple in question, and I’m not too sure they know what to do
In essence, they have been invited to an 80th birthday party of the wife of an old friend, both of whom they respected and knew very well. Unfortunately a rather large fly dropped into this happy broth some years ago, as the lady’s granddaughter fell into the wrong company, suffered a spell of incarceration, fell pregnant with her African boyfriend, and has is now living of state benefits.
Now for my self and my wife this is not a major problem. We would have preferred her to have encountered better company, we would have prefered her not to have landed up in jail, and, as taxpayers, we would prefer not to partially fund her child, but what is done is done.
We were not there when such things happened, and we do not know the full circumstances, therefore we are not prepared to stand in judgement, morally or legally, on what has occurred. Even if we had such facts our position would remain unchanged, as we feel we have no right, let alone desire, to impose our own code of morality, and so it is that we look forward to going to the party to not only see everyone after several years separation, but to also honour the Lady in question, and enjoy the evening to come
The couple previously mentioned do have a problem though. They are in receipt of as much information as we have, but they disapprove of the granddaughter’s actions and single mother pregnancy, they decry her mothers parenting skills, and are uncomfortable, upon racial considerations, with both the granddaughters choice of partner, and her financing of the child. Put all of this together and they find that they wish to have nothing to do with the family, so what are they to do?
Be totally honest, and return the invitation, or put in an appearance for a short while, and make all of the “appropriate noises”, as polite society expects and requires?
The choice, at the moment, seems to be to go to the second option, but what would you do if you were in their shoes?
Honesty dictates one course of action, while social considerations and diplomacy dictates the other; and these are good folks who wouldn’t wish for accusations of deceit, racism, and hypocrisy to destroy or taint their name
I know what I would recommend, but then I am, by my own admission, not a very social person, so what I will be doing is to leave you with a couple of video’s that might help you make up your mind.
I’d also be very interested to hear your views, and I promise to respond as fast as I can.