Tag Archives: truth

A Beautiful Word-No

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If you find that you say the word “No” a lot, would you qualify to be labelled as mean? I reckon my ability to say no unflinchingly is the reason why one of my students asked me why I am so mean. If you went through the 844 system you must be wondering in what universe are, students allowed to tell their teachers what they really think about them. My answer would be in the same universe that a child decides they don’t want to go to school in the morning and the parent actually let’s them stay at home. As a special needs teacher in a non conventional education system, I have lots of stories to tell but I will spare you and focus on a beautiful word we all know as “no”.

One of the reasons I love the word “no” is that it is ironically so simple. It is monosyllabic, so brief that it costs merely a breathe to say it and yet requires so much strength to be spoken. As far as words go it might be an underdog. I mean they did not make a movie titled “The No Man”. It would be confusing right? It would be difficult to get one’s head around it. A movie about saying “yes” to everything, that’s more like it. It sounds interesting; it even has the potential to be hilarious. After all is that not what “freedom” is about? Who is more free, liberated if you will: the person who says no to a lot of things or the person who says “yes” “yes”, “yes”! I leave that to you to decide.

Freedom and liberty are wonderful things no doubt but when I think of the word no, revolutionary comes to mind. I confess my grasp of all the major world revolutions is scanty at best but I imagine it all starts with a simple word: no. When Marie Antoinette said the infamous words “if they cannot have bread let them have cake”, I imagine (which saves me from reading volumes of history) someone heard this and his mind was screaming NO!!! How dare she be so inconsiderate? Things cannot go on like this. Like I said I am operating from almost ignorance but I do hope anyone out there who is more history savvy will fill in the blanks. The point is for the most part revolutions seldom start with agreement with the status quo. It starts with a No! Then, it continues with I will not stand for this then, revolt!

I don’t know about you but I love (looove) me a revolutionary. If you think about it, you do too. Remember when Ché Guevara merchandise was in vogue? If you didn’t buy the t-shirt you probably envied someone who did. I think one of the reasons we love revolutionaries is there is a little revolutionary in every one of us. Deep down, somewhere in there, you disagree with so many things but often courage does not come so easily. Deep down, there are things you wish you could change in your own life, in your community, in your country… but change is not so easy. So when we find that person who is courageous enough to stand up and say no! We applaud. I bet even those who are opposed to some of these changes admire the guy’s guts even though they will publicly portray a different picture. We love a revolutionary because we can live vicariously through them and to be honest it is a lot safer. I mean tying myself in chains to a gate knowing well the police will get me out, keeping in mind that police brutality is very real, is risky business. I would rather wait to see it in the news and say “wow, I wish I had his guts”.

While it is all fine and dandy to live vicariously through other revolutionaries, it is a new year and my challenge to you, to me is to go out and be a revolutionary. I don’t expect us to start another uprising, because the Middle East already took that bus. What I am hoping is we can all learn to say no every once in a while and maybe more often. I would begin with saying no to myself. I read a quote (which I paraphrased): people often want to change the world but no one wants to change himself. Yes it is the prince of clichés but change begins with you. What are some of the things we can say no to in our own lives? We can say no to excesses and things that are just plain harmful. That extra (caffeinated, alcoholic or carbonated) drink, the extra plate of deep fried something or bowl of sugary goodness which will lead you to a doctor sooner rather than later, that extra work you carried home from the office depriving you of rest and engaging with other human beings, that extra hour of pointless internet surfing and TV watching which makes you wonder what happened to the time, that extra illicit relationship that is killing your soul ever so slowly…. I could go on and on but I will not. Truth is you know what you need to say no to and the reasons for saying no are innumerable.

We also need to say no to people especially friends and family. This is a hard one because most of us are wired to please people. For some of us the thought of disappointing someone is harrowing.  Here’s a thought: you can’t please everyone ergo you have to disappoint some people. Now with this mind just say no. An outright no may seem harsh (but it’s more fun to say) but there are subtle ways of doing it like “I am not sure I can do that” or “I can’t do it”. I welcome more ideas on how to say no nicely. It is especially important to learn to say no to children especially if they are trying to get their way using tantrums. Think of it this way, giving a child what they want after throwing a tantrum is like negotiating with a terrorist. In my line of work I have seen tantrums that are monumental at best and I can assure you even when the child cries bullets and you stand your ground the child will respect you and they will not love you any less. It is equally important to give reasons for your answers. Some people will argue with you but that’s an opportunity to practice standing your ground. If children argue with you (politely of course), look at it as negotiation. Let the child develop negotiation skills, we all know negotiation skills go a long way in the real world.

I am sure there’s a whole long list of things we can say no to but I would rather read from you. What have you successfully said no to? What would you add to the no list. Let me know. I look forward to reading from you. Now go on be a little revolutionary, just say no.

 

Inspirational Love

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This past week there has been a lot of talk about love because of Valentine’s Day. This is how you know how hallowed the day is when I tried to type it in with a small “d” the computer gave me the green grammatical error line, oops sorry Microsoft word. Historically Valentine’s Day has been termed a day of lovers but it is a day of business people too. Next to Christmas nothing puts a smile on business people’s faces quite like Valentine’s. Heck you don’t even need to be a business person; you just need to be enterprising. Since last Tuesday the number of flower and gift vendors has reduced like the liquid in 24 hour lamb. The good thing is the vendors who are left are in it for real love. These are the guys who make life tasty like the liquid left after 24 hour lamb; it is a delightful sauce that makes waiting 24 hours for a meal worth it (I’m not sure many people would agree with this but well…). The point I was trying to make (using all my thousands of words that I need to use in a day) is love should be an everyday thing. It should be expressed as often as there are breaths. A random gift or bouquet of roses or a single stem, a sweet card and a kind word does not require occasion.

The subject of love is fodder for books, music, cinema, TV, conversation in bars, coffee shops, salons and living rooms. I don’t know about you but mi thinks most of these conversations are based on trying to understand what this thing called love is. I cannot say I understand it either but I have a little insight on the kind of love I would like: the inspirational kind. Oh so many years ago there was a movie called The Best Man. The sound track of the movie was called “Best man”. It was sung by Ginuwine, Tyrese, R.L and Case. I must admit I couldn’t remember who sang the song until I googled it but when the song was fresh I would have been weak in the knees if I ever ran into any of these guys (thank God for time and distance). In the song the persona talks of this girl who changes his life for the better. That he was a boy when he met her and he has grown to become a men because of her influence and she has helped him be the best man he can be. I thought the song was golden I mean it’s really sweet that she influenced him for the better. I realized that love should be at the least inspiring many years ago and now I am more convinced of it.

A few weeks ago there was a discussion amongst my youth fellowship on sex and love was invited into the conversation. One guy said the most awe inspiring thing that love means adding value. It means you take a person who was ok when you met them and you love them into a higher level. Sounds good doesn’t it? Who doesn’t want to be in love right about now? Have you thought about the people you have ever related with are they so much the better because they encountered you? Let’s start small let’s go to your family. Can your family members say that your good qualities have rubbed off on them? Or did they pick up most of their bad habits from you? Are you adding value to their lives or are you taking them down a notch or ten? So many questions right. Let me let all of us off the hook and stop asking.

Relationships are a two way street. Whatever goes down between two people who are in any kind of relationship is the responsibility of each of the party involved. I would like to hope that you are inspiring the people you relate with but they also have to decide to be inspired. A few months ago I was hanging around this guy who was really interesting and I liked him. I realised that we had something in common a passion for food. Around that time I kept telling myself I was waiting for some perfect opportunity to experiment in the kitchen. When we had a conversation about food and he mentioned he likes to experiment in the kitchen and he actually does, I thought to myself why not me? I haven’t seen the guy in ages but the desire to experiment in the kitchen has stayed with me. I have since cooked for a few friends and family and it was amazing! I want to do this for the rest of my life. People may walk in and out of your life but what you keep with you from these encounters is entirely up to you. Sometimes we get hurt but even when we have been hurt there was some good in that relationship. What was it? Can you figure it out and take it and run with it. The truth is if you choose to hold on to the hurt and the pain then you lost and when you lose so many times you are in danger of feeling like a loser. On the other hand if you can take something that will benefit you in a future relationship then you are so much the better. What can you take you ask? Where do I begin? How about you take those characteristics you found admirable in the person and practice them. Like your ex was a good time keeper you can learn to keep time. I know it sounds silly but maybe your new ability to keep timing will elevate your status and you never know who is watching. Maybe your dad was a lousy husband to your mother but he taught you to be philanthropic, take it and run with it. Your ex was a go getter, borrow a leaf or better yet get that leaf! This person has a great relationship with God, start asking God what you can do to have an awesome relationship like that with Him if not better.  At the end of the day, if you are in any relationship and you choose to inspire the other person and be inspired by the other person then no matter what happens everybody is a winner. Last I checked winning is cool!

Truth: Let me tell you.

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Truth: Let me tell you..

Whoever came up with the expression “the truth hurts” left out a part of that expression. I reckon the full expression should have been “the truth hurts but lies are septic”. Anyone who understands the word septic knows it ain’t pretty. It comes from the word sepsis which is usually used in reference to a wound which has gotten an infection. I can feel my stomach turning at the thought of it because like I said it ain’t pretty. The same thing with our interactions with others where there are lies the wounds that are resultant might as well be septic. They take ever-ever to heal, they hurt to a point of numbness, the festering sore spreads on and if there is no anti-biotic death is a slip away (think slippery slope). Since childhood we have been taught to believe the truth hurts and of course it does. Centuries later there has been plenty of evidence to show that lies hurt more than the truth but no one has coined a phrase about it. I could be mistaken though there might be an expression showing how harmful lies are but it is not in common usage. At this point I hope you are busy opening another tab to google this. Anyway, please do find those expressions about lies and let me know in comments.

The truth is scary, telling it and receiving it. But I think we humans have made it a bit difficult to speak the truth. Let us all trace our steps back to childhood. If you are lucky you grew up in an era where parents were parents (no offence to modern day parents). I mean parents those days were the king and queens of their castles. As you know kings and queens have royal sceptres with which they wield their power. In those days the royal sceptre was nothing fancy with diamonds and gold it was just a big old stick. More to that; as with any kingdom there were a pre-determined set of rules with which people were to live by. As you can now imagine the sceptre was used to enforce those rules. Some of our parents liked the military style of things “do now and ask questions later”. So when mum tells you not to stick your fingers in the sugar jar (read sugar dish) she just wants you to follow that rule. It does not occur to her to give any explanations as to why you shouldn’t stick your fingers in the sugar dish. Though you don’t understand the fuss with nibbling grains of sugar, you knew better than to question it. More to that; you knew the consequences of doing otherwise and so even when you risked it and you got caught you deny, deny, deny (sugar grains around your lips notwithstanding). Why? Because we imagined the consequence of telling the truth would be very severe. So you lie hoping you cleared your tracks well enough, because you think that is the only way you will get away with it.

When I think about this I really wonder if perhaps I got this all wrong. My memory is a little hazy about times in my childhood when I told the truth and there were positive consequences. So I would like to ask you, do you remember ever telling the truth and there being positive consequences of truth telling? Because I know when I lied and I was caught there was hell to pay. A fine example of positive consequences of truth telling is Barack Obama’s election campaign. When he went about his campaign he let it slip and people knew that he was how should I say this, a crack head in his past life. That was very good strategy on his part. He knew leaking the news himself would diffuse any sensationalism and all that other stuff that sells newspapers and tabloid magazines. But on the flip side if he kept the lid on his past transgressions, people would dig and find and it wouldn’t come out like (can’t believe I’m about to say this) a tiny fart; it would be kaboom!

In psychology we learn about reinforcement. A reinforcer is something that increases the likelihood of a behaviour occurring again. In this case I am of the opinion if a parent were to respond reasonably when the child told the truth this would reinforce truth telling making it more likely to occur again. Respond reasonably does not mean you let the child gets away with mischief all willy-nilly. I would say make sure the child knows you appreciate their honesty then make them understand that you are punishing their mischief. You may not be a parent but this information you can use later. However you are in a variety of relationships; the question is how do you respond to truth?

Does your friend, boy/girlfriend/spouse know they can be honest with you or does the idea being honest with you seem like a visit to the dentist: sharp machinery will come out, some drilling without any laughing gas. When people justify telling lies they say I don’t think she/he can handle the truth. Of course that is so overly presumptuous because who’s to say you can’t handle it? But then again people can read signs based on how you behave. How do you handle conflicts? Do you hit the roof, go into a verbal tirade, get defensive, throw objects or withdraw and give a cold shoulder? What I would say is encourage people around you to tell you the truth. For a start let them know the truth is important to you because honesty is the fuel that drives trust. Then when someone tells you a hard hitting truth before you say anything calm down; sometimes the best response is no response at all. If the person has made the kind of confession that has your head throbbing and your eyes searching for sharp objects in the room, give yourself a time out. You can walk away to clear your head or you can tell the person to get out. If you are the bearer of bad news, do respect the person’s decision not to want to share oxygen with you at the time and leave. Though the truth hurts it needs to be confronted. Like a fresh wound after applying pressure to stop the bleeding you need to prod to see how deep the cut is so you know how to administer first aid. So even if it is too much for you that you need to walk away you need to come back (when you are calm) to talk things out to see how the matter can be resolved.

All of the time telling the truth at the earliest opportunity is the best option. Telling the truth early is like a small cut it can be bandaged and it heals quickly. But when a lie is told which needs to be covered for with another lie the cut gets deeper and with time it festers and you know the rest is a gory mess. So folks help people tell you the truth and you tell people the truth.