In the business world, and more so in politics, ugly is the only word I can use to describe the nasty things people so badly want you to hear about their opponent. I call it the “ugly truth” because it is no more related to facts than the monsters under the bed. It does not seem to matter anymore whether these nasty things are based on fact.
With the advent of social networking, blogging and do-it-yourself website-creation people can say whatever they like; true or false. Many believe that if it’s on Facebook, Google or worse yet, YouTube, it must be true. Thus begins the familiarity with the ugly truth of renegade journalism and activist rhetoric and some of the clowns who speak merely to hear the sound of their own voice. It’s unfortunate. I’d like to think the viewing audiences are smart enough to realize their own truths, but sadly in large part they are not. And as Jack Nicholson so eloquently stated in A Few Good Men, they probably “couldn’t handle the truth!”
Take election campaigns for instance, some political “strategists” have no conscience when stretching truths or pulling verbiage out of context. They think, strike that, they KNOW their voters won’t know the difference and they are counting on our laziness in seeking the facts; they count on our ignorance. That offends me more than anything!
If I were tuning in to American television during an election year, I would think that Americans were the most dishonest, morally bankrupt and crazy people I’ve ever seen – at least if election campaigns were all I had to judge them by. It’s not an attractive portrayal of democracy in my opinion. Democracy wasn’t supposed to look like that! Freedom of speech wasn’t supposed to look like that either. It’s an ugly truth.
I was on the receiving end of that kind of ugly this week. My first reaction was to retaliate. My second was to write down all the facts and make sure my “attacker” knew all the truths. My third reaction? I was hurt. I was shaken and hurt. Thankfully, I didn’t retaliate and I didn’t stuff facts down their throat (but I really, really wanted to). The hurt has stayed with me a while. I was starting to feel like a victim; the victim of politics on an entirely different level. Talk about ugly. Being a victim is NOT the most flattering role for me or for anyone. I really wanted to address every untruth and tell them and everyone the truth, but truth is not what these people are interested in; making crazy accusations to get noticed, is. I wrote two comments, three emails and four Facebook posts that I never sent. I had to get it out of my system…but still, I felt victimized.
Don’t get me wrong, there are times when it’s much easier to be the victim. You can garner sympathies and rally people to “see it your way.” It feels good to bask in piety and righteousness. It would feel so good to tell everybody that I’m right; people know I’m right and those other people are wrong so all shall be right with the world! Wrong! It’s not so simple.
One time at an educational seminar, I learned that as long as someone MUST be right, then someone else MUST be wrong. And trying to CONVINCE people to agree with you is no better than your offender’s initial jab. We all think that if people agree with “our side of the story” then the other person MUST be wrong, making us out to be the “winner.” I’ve written about it before, but nobody wins if someone has to be wrong. It’s physically impossible for someone to be right without making the other party out to be wrong. It’s physics.
So winning wasn’t really in my cards today. Ah, the conscious decisions of higher ground. But I have to make that choice today: to be the victim or to rise above it. After a little kicking and screaming and venting and unsent emails, I rose above it. And eventually, I even meant it! I responded with kindness. I chose to not make them wrong for their opinion, but to encourage them for the one right thing they had done. It wasn’t easy, and in some way, I guess I won in the end; if winning is measured in how you respond to the ugly truths of other people’s realities.