Monday, January 28, 2008

Borrowed words

I was going to post about honesty, but I felt this blog summed it up better - I couldn't get the direct link to work, so here's the ammended text, from

December 21, 2005
The Problem with Honesty
When you’ve come from some form of poverty, extreme brokenness, or marginalized part of society, everyone wants you to be honest. Courts want you to be honest. Case managers want you to be honest. Addiction counselors want you to be honest. Therapists want you to be honest. Housing facilities want you to be honest. Medicaid technicians want you to honest. Food stamp personnel want you to be honest. Churches want you to be honest. Everyone wants you to be honest.

The problem is that when you are tied up with all these people wanting you to be honest, honesty requires vulnerability. Though this is a special kind of vulnerability. A kind where your life, your kids, and your future depend on how someone responds to your honesty. However, when most of the people asking for such levels of honesty have never had to risk everything by being so honest themselves, it becomes difficult...When such a level of honesty forces you to put everything on the table and deal with it, it is painful. Add a few or so experiences where you've tried honesty, and it was abused by someone close. Forget about it. The only person that can ask for honesty, is someone that knows what it takes to be so honest.

I am reminded of what this felt like at the beginning of fall. My wife and I were supposed to hand in all our paperwork to the housing authority front desk staff like everyone else. With a new technician asking us to lay our lives on the table, the information they requested was just too delicate to leave to interpretation. Honesty about income. Honesty about criminal history. Honesty about everything is just too much.
We pleaded for a face to face visit so we could let them know that we are real people. Real human beings with real stories . We are more than just information filled out on an application. I was mixed with emotions. I wanted to take advantage of their system since it had denied me before. Though I was desperate for a moment where they would finally recognize that I was worth the risk, even if I failed. This kind of vulnerability is not only difficult, it is tormenting.

However, the problem with this kind of honesty they ask for, is the unwillingness of those asking to accept that some things won't, or can't change. At least not now. How do we warrant asking someone to be honest, and then penalizing them for doing so when their honestly takes us further into the depth of their hopelessness? When are we asking only for what we want to hear?
While there are so many good policies in place, and appropriate guidelines needed for maintaining order, these are all beside the point. The real question is “How do we truly wish to reach and help transform those who have no concept of trust, when we aren’t able to trust ourselves”. When do we let our own weaknesses become our strength?
Everyone needs to be so desperately honest. Institutions need to be so desperately honest. The church needs to be so desperately honest. We all have our issues and we all need to act as if though our lives depend on our honesty. We need to stop asking for honesty, and be honest. From those being helped, to the ones helping. At every level people must learn what it means to take risks and be vulnerable with someone. Anyone. Not just God, but real people. We must lay it all on the line, everyday.

Then we must constantly do so without ceasing in spite of negative experiences. Only this kind of honesty will keep us real, keep us sane, and keep us all at a level where we see each other as the same. Where we see one another in God’s image, and have reckless compassion for humanity. This kind of honesty is available to everyone, but it costs so much. You must be willing to live like everyone is asking you to be honest. You must live as though your life, your kids, and your future depend on how someone responds to your honesty. Yes, this kind of honesty is not perfect, it is completely vulnerable. But it is honest.
Posted by Sam Trujillo at 09:25 PM