There’s No Point Being “Honest” With Everyone Else If You Can’t Be Honest About Yourself First

There’s an iconic film moment in the movie “A Few Good Men”. Military JAG officer Tom Cruise has the movie’s villain (played by Jack Nicholson) on the stand where he’s pressed him hard to get at “the truth”. Nicholson’s Colonel Jessep barks: “You can’t HANDLE the truth!” Of course, in the movie (written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Rob Reiner, both very progressive), we’re meant to shake our heads at Jessep’s arrogance. Of course we can handle the Truth. Ah, but, can we? Can any of us really handle the Truth about who we are and where we are in our lives versus where we wished we’d be? As much as I advocate in this blog for “living bullshit free”, the unvarnished truth about humans is we need a certain amount of bullshit just to get through each day. Hell, we need a certain amount of bullshit just to justify getting through most days. Especially these days.

The trap in being honest with ourselves is if we equate being honest with being judged. The reason we don’t want to be honest is because we don’t want to be judged — especially if we’re just “being honest”. Inside our own heads though, things get grey. We don’t judge ourselves the way we judge others. We couldn’t stand it if we did. But, if we could push past that kneejerk judgment, let our psychological hair down and run free, we’d probably be shocked by the stone, cold truth about ourselves. That’s neither good nor bad. It’s just the Truth.

For instance: none of us can say whether or not we’re racist. It’s not up to us. It’s up to anyone toward whom we may have been racist. IF someone were to accuse us of being a racist (or bigoted or misogynist in any way), would we accept hearing such a terrible TRUTH about ourselves? Or would we insist the “truth” was otherwise — something kinder and gentler toward us? Being honest with oneself is hard, hard work. But the payoffs are considerable. Important detail: being totally honest with yourself about yourself must precede any attempt to be totally honest about anyone else.
If you’re doing it right, being honest with yourself about yourself is pretty much a full time job all by itself. You won’t have time to give others the “benefit” of your honesty. If the world was working the way it should, all those others will be as consumed as you will be by the work involved in patrolling their own “perimeters of truth”.

One of the first benefits of being honest with oneself however is how it opens one’s eyes to the myriad ways OTHERS aren’t being honest with themselves but with some very important, very human context around it. On the one hand, that can make us more empathetic to why and how others dance around the truth. On the other, the context makes it crystal clear when others aren’t being “truthful” about WHY they’re dancing as fast as they’re dancing: they’re being cynical. Or, worse, corrupt.

The whole point of being honest with oneself is to “vaccinate” against bullshit and bullshit’s influence on our psyches.

Cutting ourselves slack is completely understandable. We all have to live inside our own heads. But, we have to recognize (if only to ourselves) that that’s what we’re doing. Again, the point isn’t to judge, it’s merely to RECOGNIZE what really is versus what isn’t and probably never was.

There is not a Republican Congressperson alive right now who doesn’t know what they’re really doing. They KNOW they’re not working to make America a stronger democracy dedicated to expanding its electorate. They KNOW that what they’re doing will, in fact, undermine American’s democracy because that is the point. If you can’t win elections via the strength of your ideas and arguments, you’re going to have to “win” elections by “other means”. Republicans don’t suppress Democratic voters because they believe in democracy, they do it because they fear democracy. That’s not a judgment; it’s a stone cold FACT.

Hey, look — Republicans aren’t “obligated” to want the greatest experiment in human self government to continue. They are obligated however to be honest about their intentions. And, if they refuse to be honest about themselves, it’s incumbent on our news media to force them to be honest. That’s their Constitutionally mandated mission — to be the final check on power. Honesty and sunlight — they both work wonders on a dark, corrupt world.

In Hamlet, Shakespeare put it this way: “To thine own self, be true”. Of course, the person giving that advice (Polonius) is a deceptive skunk, but the sentiment’s right. We can only really be honest — and the sunlight can only do what we need it to do — if we begin the process with ourselves to ourselves.

How To Level An American Playing Field That’s NEVER Been Level

The playing field in America has never truly been level because the “men” in “All men are created equal” never included all “men” and definitely never included women. It’s hard to even field a team to put on the pitch when the majority of the players have been banned from the stadium to begin with. America’s fatal flaw wasn’t the idea of a grand experiment in self-government, it was who we excluded from the experiment when we started it. If you really want to get depressed, think of amazing women, skilled, smart like Stacey Abrams, AOC and Susan Rice — then think of all the Stacey’s, AOC’s and Susan’s whose skill sets we left on the table, never bothering to educate them, nurture them or encourage them. Think of all the great ideas America never bothered to develop simply because of racism, bigotry and misogyny.

Leveling the playing field is, ultimately, good for everyone playing on it. Want to see just how exceptional America really is? Let’s put everyone onto the same field of dreams.

Those who really can’t compete — white guys apparently — might lose more often but, if they’d just give innovating and thinking outside the box a try, they might find themselves — because they’re being forced to compete — competing better and winning again. This Progressive won’t mind so much losing an argument to a moderate (conservatives can’t compromise) whose ideas, having been forced to compete with everyone’s, simply are better than mine.

That’s the whole mentality behind a completely level playing field. It really does put us all into the same game with the same rules.

Imagine a “game” where some turtle-faced nitwit insists the rules work one way for him and his rich friends but completely different for everyone else.

Imagine a game where we measure the field and all its features the exact same way — where both sides have to run ten yards to score a first down rather than one side having to make ten while the other gets first downs just for showing up. Imagine a game where no one gets born on third base and thinks they hit a triple.

Gerrymandering prevents the field from being level by breaking up potentially dominant Democratic voting districts into far less threatening districts dominated by some distant, rural Republican enclave that outnumbers the segmented Democratic area by just enough to be forever insurmountable. Gerrymandering is permanent minority rule’s whip. And, boy do they love cracking it over our heads every election.

And then there’s electronic voting machine fraud — the ultimate, silent, un-leveler of any playing field anywhere. As I wrote about here, it would take no more than three people to pull off a successful conspiracy to use voting machines to pad Republican vote totals — to perpetually make it appear as if there were more Republicans than there, in fact, are. Padding totals consistently would create a false narrative that those mean Progressives better be checked because of all the worried, socialism-fearing Republicans. Except, of course, a lot of those worried Republicans don’t exist and never have.

Republican-manufactured, internet-accessible, corruption-vulnerable, virtually unregulated electronic voting machines don’t fill one with confidence when contemplating their integrity. That’s because the manufacturers have none theselves (between donating to Trump and Republicans and having those same Republicans sit on their board). Neither do the Republican-run states who’ve bought the damned things and insist on using them instead of far safer, far more reliable hand-marked paper ballots. It’s also because Trump INSISTED that HIS VOTERS forgo voting by mail and USE THE VOTING MACHINES INSTEAD.

Talk about thinks that make ya go “Hmmmmmmm…”.

Sorry, but a man who lies every time he opens his mouth, projects massive criminality twenty-four-seven and who was IMPEACHED for cheating in the very election he just ran in cannot be trusted. If you’re ears didn’t prick up the instant Trump insisted HIS voters vote via machine then you haven’t been paying attention. You need to sit down till the rest of us fix this; you’ll only ever get in everyone else’s way.

The solution to our problem is this: in order, fix 1) Equality, 2) Justice and 3) Hope. You can’t have justice without equality. Fix equality first, you can have justice. If everyone believes justice is fair, they’ll have hope. Hope will create purpose and the will to realize all those Big Plans we’ll need to realize if we’re ever to regain our place in the world.

First order of business though — let’s remove the bully not just from the playing field we’re on but from the zip code we’re in entirely. Hell, let’s kick him off the planet if we can. No one will miss him.

Consider that a slam dunk.