Daily Prompt: A Generous Spirit

“Mind if I sit here?”

I looked up from my ham sandwich and chips to see a pretty brown-haired girl with sparkling blue eyes, and a smile that seemed impossibly wide and bright. I sat stunned anyone would talk to me, much less sit by me, so I didn’t answer other than to nod.

She set her tray down across from me and stuck out her hand. “I’m Jen. And you are?”

I took her hand slowly, wandering if this was some haze the new guy trick. “John.”

“Nice to meet you, John. Just moved here, huh?”

I glanced around the lunchroom, seeing others throw stares and whispers. I frowned and turned back to her. “Is this some kind of trick?”

She looked surprised and hurt. “What are you talking about?”

I gestured toward my body, tall, overweight and unattractive. “Pretty girls just don’t talk to guys like me.”

She grinned. “You think I’m pretty?”

“Uh…”

She swung her hand in a grand gesture which encompassed the entire room. “Look, I grew up here and know all these people already. I love meeting new people and getting to know them. I’m not trying to trick you or anything, I just like making new friends.”

I could feel my face flush. “Sorry,” I mumbled.

“It’s fine. I can understand if you want to be alone.” She grabbed her tray and made to leave.

“No. Wait!” I gestured to her seat. “Please. I…I don’t have any friends here. I would like it if you stayed and talked.”

She smiled at me and I felt my face respond. She sat back down and grabbed her milk. “Okay, but you’re wrong you know.”

“What?”

“You’re wrong. You have at least one friend here.”

***

10 years later

“Mind if I sit here?”

I stand beside a new hire sitting in the break room by herself while everyone else chats with people they’ve known for years. She nods her head and I plop down in the seat across from her. I can see the confusion and suspicion on her face as I stick out my hand. “Hi. I’m John and I like to meet new people.”

_________________________________________________________________

My contribution for the WordPress Daily Prompt. The one-word prompt for the day was Generous. I have had the good fortune to meet many generous people this past year as I go through nursing school and I’m proud to call them friends.

via Daily Prompt: Generous

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Daily Prompt: Truth? It’s Circumstantial

Why do we lie? What is truth? The Daily Prompt posts the provocative question: Is it possible to be too honest, or is honesty always the best policy?

As a fiction writer, I would ask: Can a lie be truth? And does the validity of my truth outweigh yours?

Most people I’ve come across don’t want unvarnished truth for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest, I believe, is that my truth may not coincide with theirs. Do I think that blouse looks good on you? No, but who gives a damn? If you like it, my truth doesn’t trump yours. It means that you have a different aesthetic sense than I do.

Does it cost me anything to say I like it? No. In fact, it is a cost-saving measure: I avoid an argument, hurt feelings, and being a jerk. And yes, even though I was being “honest” I would have been a jerk trying to impose my sense of truth on another.

If you’re honest all the time, you’re being an ass. Just being honest!

If you are asking my honest opinion about how I think a particular choice may go over, and most people can tell the difference between a social nicety-seeking remark and true curiosity (if that person is well-adjusted), then I’ll let you know my opinion. I will not tell you anything with that air of certitude that grates on even the most patient souls.

Even Mother Teresa thinks you’re a D-bag.

Lies make society work, at least currently. If you tell there kids there is man in the North Pole that has a magical workshop full of elves that make toys for all the good boys and girls, you are a liar. And I would imagine you would be pissed off royal if someone ripped that veil of innocence from your child’s eyes in an effort at complete “honesty”. I know I would.

Circumstances dictate our social responses, and someone who tells the “truth” all the time is no more adjusted, or virtuous, than the consummate liar.

But that’s in “polite” society as it exists now. What about larger “truths”? What about religion?

Thanks for the warning, but I’m not here to say this religion is right and this religion is wrong, or even declare my own beliefs. Nope, I’m just making a point about the subjectivity of “truth” and “lies”.

grl-exec-1

So this is the size of the various religious groups as a percentage of the global population. Some may look at this and say, “See how many believe the same way I do. That many people can’t be wrong.”

Know what I see when I look at this? I see that no matter what slice of the pie you look at, billions think you’re “truth” is a “lie.” Massage those numbers and let it roll in your mind for a second that billions of people think you follow a lie. I’ll wait.

Come to any conclusions? I bet many thought, “Well, I’m right and they’re wrong.” Perfectly valid thought. It goes to that point about individual truths I mentioned earlier. There are over 7 billion people on the planet, each with their own set of experiences, biases, education-levels, and truths.

I’m not saying you’re wrong…or right, for that matter. You want to believe Jesus is the son of God and died for our sins? Amen. Do you  believe there is no God but Allah and Muhammed is the messenger of Allah? As-salaam-alaikum. Is the Torah you’re guide? Shalom.

Am I implying that religion, or the lack thereof, shouldn’t be questioned, challenged, explored, or debated? No. All of these things lead to growth, and are necessary facets of the human existence. The lack of questioning, and that niggling voice that says “I might be wrong,” turns “truth” to fanaticism.

westboro3

photo: Humboldt Sentinel
At least they’re honest!

What about politics?

Yes. I know. Again, I’m not coming out on one side or the other. I have my “truth” and you have yours. We may agree, we may not. Anyway, I read comments on political stories sometimes. I know, I know…but, something about anonymity turns that social-lying filter off and you get raw “honesty” (or people just looking to incite a flame-war, they look very similar).

My take on some of this “honesty”:

photo: npr.org
Obummer, a fascist communist libertard wealth redistributor. Out to destroy America.

photo: bangordailynews.com
Bush, Fascist rethuglican idiot would-be tyrant puppet of Cheney and Big Oil. Tried to destroy America.

Honesty’s fun! Our politicians hold to the “truths” of their base so much that the government gridlocks! Woo-Hoo!

And let’s think about our elected officials for a moment. A common complaint around election time is, “They’re all a bunch of liars.” Ever stop to think why they’re liars, if indeed they are? If they were honest, they probably wouldn’t be elected. Entire news channels spend 24 hours a day spinning their side’s agenda to make it palatable to the beast known as “the base.” Until election-time, when they start pandering to the moderates (read: those that haven’t picked a side).

And we soak it up like a person lost in a desert that finds an oasis soaks up water. Why? We like being agreed with. We like feeling “in” with a group. It is how we are. If that means accepting certain “truths” and lying to ourselves, many (not all) will do just that.

So, let’s wrap up this rambling rhetoric, shall we?

picture: quickmeme.com

The truth and honesty are tricky matters. So much of what we take for granted as being the “honest truth” is someone else’s lie. Does this mean we throw all honesty out the window and lie, lie, lie? No. It means that what you consider “honesty” and the “truth” is subject to your experiences and beliefs. It may not coincide with someone else’s truth.

Social convention demands that we lie at times. Think of a child too young to have that filter. What do you do when they inevitably say something offensive to someone else. “Be nice” or “That isn’t appropriate.” Maybe even, “We don’t say that out in public.” They are being honest, but the socially adjusted know that honesty isn’t always the best policy. Even if you subscribe to the adage, “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all,” you are lying by omission.

Honesty can be good, especially being honest with yourself. But “lies” have their place as well.

Of course, those reading this will draw their own “truth”; some may even reject it as a “lie.” So be it. I leave you with a video that popped into my head as soon as I saw the prompt.