The news is filled with violations of morality, ethics, and the law. We are left shocked, dismayed, and confused.
What is at the root of this behavior? Are some people “evil”? I suggest not.
I propose that the source of this has to do with something we all grapple with: personal Character, and these lapses are disintegrations of Character.
So what is Character?
One dimension of Character is integrity—treating our word as our bond.
Another equally crucial dimension is authenticity.
Synonyms for authentic are:
Credible, truthful, factual, real, trustworthy.
In talking, this means honesty—saying it the way it is. Straightforward. In hearing, this means getting exactly what was said as it was expressed and intended, without judging or interpreting or dismissing. Being fully present to what another says.
When we are authentic in communicating, we have a powerful relationship with other people. The basis of our relationship then is truthful, honest, genuine. Even difficult things can be discussed and addressed. Nothing is hidden. There is real connection.
Paradoxically, it seems easier sometimes to not be authentic: not being straight is a better way to get what you want. The irony is that the apparent easier path leads to the kind of headlines we see in the news.
What stops us from practicing authenticity in our daily lives? The pull to be socially accepted, to be admired, to belong, to be liked-loved-approved of. And at times we feel embarrassment and even shame over what we’ve done, or how we feel, or who we are, and want to hide.
Many of us learn beginning in childhood that we must conceal our feelings or thoughts. And so we live an inner life not shared with the world. Thoreau said people “live lives of quiet desperation.”
And so we become estranged from the world, and from our own selves.
The beginning of a quantum leap in happiness, fulfillment, and power in life is to have the courage to say it the way it is. The courage to be real with ourselves and others.
As Shakespeare counseled us in Hamlet,
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
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