But it's not honesty which compels such speakers. It is usually arrogance and meanness.
"She's a terrible mother. I'm just being honest." Really? "He is too fat. I'm just being honest." Honestly?
A wise person once said "A judicious silence is always better than truth spoken without charity." That statement is attributed to Francis de Sales, a French cleric who lived in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century. His quote is one of my favorites on the topic of silence being better than speaking, if one does not have charity in his or her heart when speaking truths.
There are many, many such quotes as de Sales' statement. They are found in many languages, in many eras, in many cultures, over millennia. Your mother and mine used to say "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." I like that version, too. It was the first I ever heard, and the one which remains a bedrock of my belief that all people are entitled to a degree of dignity.
It is easy to excuse ourselves when we are trash talking others. It would be better to acknowledge "I just don't like that person" than to cloak our criticisms in the mantle of righteousness. Even if we are speaking the truth - which is often not the case - such a fact does not excuse the maligning nature of our commentary about others.
I write about this topic for one simple reason: in my life experiences, some of the meanest spirited people I have known routinely attempt to justify their harsh, judgmental comments with their "I'm just being honest" shield. If you know such a person, here's a handy rejoinder: "Are you sure you're not just being mean?"
© 2014, Jim “Pappy” Moore,
All Rights Reserved.
Jim “Pappy” Moore is a native son of East Texas who still makes the piney woods his home. firstname.lastname@example.org