Today I am considering the all-important Quaker value of Truth.
Speaking Truth is one of the bedrock principles of Quakerism that undergirds much of our actions in the world. Quakers have traditionally refused to take oaths, even when required by law, because we believe that swearing upon a Bible pre-supposes two different standards for telling the truth. Our business meetings are focused on letting a deeper truth emerge from our deliberations, rather than just the will of one person or even the majority.
We aren't tactless and blunt though. Quakers more precisely seek to speaking the truth… with love. We are striving to balance the need to be truthful with the need to be sensitive to the perspectives and feelings of others. If someone gives me a gift, I don't mention that I hate the color or that I already have it. I thank the person for the kind gesture and accept the gift as an expression of caring and thought.
I pride myself on being an open and honest person. It's the loving part I have trouble with. I know that I can be blunt and too direct for some, and that a kind word might accomplish more than a frank opinion. I've lived with the consequences of other people's secrets and seen how destructive it can be on relationships and lives. So if I'm going to err, its going to be on the side of openness and honesty, not secrecy and half-truths.
A deeper sense of being a truthful person is being an integrated, whole human being in all of your interactions, relationships and roles that each of us has to play. Am I the same person as a co-worker as I am as a son, a friend, a fellow Quaker? Am I letting shine through all of the values that I espouse, no matter the situation, no matter how uncomfortable or inconvenient? Would people at my funeral come away feeling like they never really knew the "real" me?
This blog is one way that I've tried to manifest this in the world. Rikomatic.com isn't about one part of my life, it's about pretty much the whole package, expressed as honestly and clearly as I can. Sure it might not make sense to an outsider why I am writing about lindy hop, virtual worlds, and Quakerism on the same site. But it makes sense to me, cause it's all part of who I am.
For the past couple of years, the workplace is where I've been focusing on being as "whole" and honestly myself as I can. Sometimes this has meant being honest with co-workers and supervisors about my own desires and opinions, even when they don't coincide with what others want or feel. I've tried to be as honest in appraising my own work as I am in evaluating other's.
It has also meant not turning off my emotions and natural empathy in the workplace. While it's important to be focused on achieving work goals, we're not robots. I've been working on being more appreciative of other's work and understanding of their own journeys. What might come easily to me might be really challenging to someone else from a different background (and vice-versa.)
I know that I've got a long way to go. But I think even in the past year I've come a far ways in being a more caring and honest person to work with.