Telling the Truth

I am thinking, as I often do, of the urgency in Buckminster Fuller’s words that, quoting directly from his writing in Critical Path, he held a “driving conviction that all of humanity is in peril of extinction if each one of us does not dare, now and henceforth, always to tell only the truth, and all the truth, and to do so promptly — right now.”  (p.xi) Recent reflections have caused me to remember times when I decided not to tell the truth as I felt it in order to remain agreeable, to please those around me, to feel loved. It was a survival technique. Except I learned that no one survives this method without dysfunction and terrible pain, and wish we might teach our children from the time they learn to talk about the necessity of speaking and listening to truth as each person feels it.

There is a way to state one’s truth without disrespecting the right and privilege of every other person to express and hold to their own truth. That to me is the essence of truth telling – to allow truth to belong to everyone, ourselves as importantly as anyone, and the other as importantly as ourself.  But to withhold truth and not invite it from others is to put ourselves personally and collectively “in peril of extinction,” as Bucky says.

It sounds easier in theory. In practice to state one’s truth which might be unwelcome or unexpected, and at the same time to be welcoming of what comes back that could be wholly unanticipated and difficult to assimilate means to, as Bucky quotes from poet e.e. cummings, “fight the hardest battle.” Cummings calls the truth-tellers poets, and says if you are not willing to do what it takes, then “do something easy – like learning how to blow up the world – unless you are not only willing, but glad, to feel and work and fight until you die.”

Like my mentor, Bucky, I urge myself and my fellow humans to take on the task of telling the truth and only the truth, and be willing to hear the same from every other. We don’t have time to play it “safe” any more. We must do this, “promptly – right now.” A prophet and a revelator, and one of the most simple and expansively loving individuals I ever knew. Bucky said it would take some time for what he was saying to register. It’s time though, I feel it every day.

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