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You Can’t Handle The Truth! January 21, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Mindfulness, People.

One of my favorite movie lines is Jack Nicholson’s line in A Few Good Men.

During a court-martial proceeding, while being cross-examined by Tom Cruise, Nicholson blurts out:

You want the truth?  You can’t handle the truth!

That quote ties in nicely with the WP Post A Day prompt:

“Can you handle the truth?”

When choosing friends, I value honesty above all other qualities. 

If we cannot be truthful with each other, our “friendship” rests on shaky ground indeed: 

* If I can’t trust you to tell me the truth . . . who can I trust? 

* If you can’t handle the truth, how do you know who I am? 

When those who purport to be “friends” are sneaky, deceitful, two-faced, duplicitous, or otherwise “beat around the bush” rather than “telling it like it is,” it’s hard to have a firm foundation for friendship.

One way people “shade the truth” is by passing out insincere platitudes.  What a waste of time and energy.  Each time we pass along (or absorb) an insincere compliment, we feed our Egos while starving our Spirits. 

People excuse this type of dishonesty with more little lies like, “I was just trying to be nice,” or “I didn’t want to hurt their feelings.” 

Really?! I suspect that people handing out untruths are not protecting the other party to the conversation, they are protecting themselves. 

Instead of telling the truth and being honest, they say what they think the other person wants to hear out of selfish self-preservation.  

They want to be liked for being someone they are not . . . rather than run the risk of being disliked for who they are. 

If ever you find yourself “lying” or “shading the truth,” consider asking yourself who you’re really trying to protect.

When we stop hiding who we are, we have more energy to become more fully who we want to be.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Want to match your wits with Kant, Bentham, and Aristotle? 

Play To Lie, or Not To Lie!

Related posts:    Ignorance, Apathy, and Dishonesty * To Thine Own Self Be True * Kindly Be Honest * Are You OK Right Now?  *  Bending the Rules . . . And the Truth * A Not-So-Quick Quiz: Who Are You? * Toughen Up!


1. timkeen40 - January 21, 2011

In almost every organized religion there is, drinking alcohol is taboo. The people of those religions will point to a higher moral purpose as the reason for alcohol being taboo.

I happen to think it is for a much simpler reason. People tend to say what they really think when they are drinking. They tend to tell the truth. Worse than that, they tend to tell the truth about what they think of their friends and acquaintences.

Old Jack got it right.

We can’t handle the truth!

Great post!


nrhatch - January 21, 2011

What an excellent point!

We let go of societal conditioning and our socially acceptable “masks” slip when we drink. 🙂


2. Tammy McLeod - January 21, 2011

One more reason why I know you and I will be good friends Nancy. And I’m not sure I agree with Tim but may save it for future blog fodder.

nrhatch - January 21, 2011

Thanks, Tammy

This week I’ve seen so much duplicity ~ people who say one thing while thinking another.

So I jumped on WP’s prompt! {{boing!}}

If we want to be FREE to be who we really are, we need to be HONEST with ourselves and others.

I would rather say nothing than pay someone an insincere compliment just to get them to like “me” . . . because it wouldn’t be the real “me” that they liked ~ it would be the fake and phony and insincere me they were admiring. 🙂

3. Michael Soter - January 21, 2011

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

That is a beautiful quote. Congruence, walking my talk, and being centered is very important for me to progress in my life.

nrhatch - January 21, 2011

I agree, Michael.

When we aren’t being true to ourselves, we cease to exist. Instead, we become a pale shadow of who we would be if we chose to live honestly.

Thanks for swinging by.

4. Paula Tohline Calhoun - January 21, 2011

The Gandhi quote struck me as well. It immeduately brought to mind a passage from Frost’s poem, “Two Tramps in Mud Time:

“Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future’s sakes.”

Bringing all we are and all we do and say into sync with who we really are (and want to be) is essential.

nrhatch - January 21, 2011


5. Carol Ann Hoel - January 21, 2011

I try to be careful not to judge someone’s else’s motive. It’s easy to be wrong. If I know for a fact that someone is dishonest with me, I might confront the person. This would be a rare situation. I like people, and they don’t have to agree with me for me to genuinely like them.

Say something negative about someone I know, and I’ll say something positive. I get people I like mad at me that way. Can’t they handle the truth? No. Not if they perceive the truth differently.

nrhatch - January 21, 2011

Sometimes motives are as plain as the nose on their face.

If I know for a fact that someone is dishonest with me, I generally decide not to trust them in the future.

I don’t need people to agree with me for me to want to spend time with them, but I do need to trust them.

Carol Ann Hoel - January 21, 2011

Without trust there is no relationship. This is true.

nrhatch - January 21, 2011

When I was younger, I felt betrayed and dismayed by the dishonesty of those around me.

Now, I feel that they are only betraying the best parts of themselves, and their dishonesty liberates me to turn my attention elsewhere.

6. timkeen40 - January 21, 2011

I made my comments earlier about the feelings of mankind in general. I do tend to the think a little deeper than I should (the writer in me). I stand behind the earlier comments. I would like to add to them.

As a general rule I do have to trust someone for them to be considered my friend. Does this mean a little fib told for the sake of my feelings will never be forgiven?

You are damned right that is what it means. Because there are so many out there who do not want to hurt others feelings (a noble gesture in itself), I need my friends to be brutally honest with me. I do not need my friends to be friends of the Emperor and adore my new clothes. I need to know where I stand with them. I have taken them into my confidence because I trust their judgment, not because they always make me feel good.

Thanks for letting me invade the post once more.

You write a very good post and your followers (myself not included) are very intelligent and thoughtful.

Thanks for the time.


nrhatch - January 21, 2011

I agree with you, Tim.

I see so many people running around admiring the Emperor’s New Clothes instead of telling him to put some clothes on.

One difference, I forgive people easily, and seldom get angry to begin with.

When someone lies to me, I usually am secretly pleased. Why? Because once they reveal their true colors, I know where I stand with them.

It’s very liberating.

nrhatch - January 22, 2011

But we may be in the minority, Tim.

We watched a show about Nigella Lawson tonight. A few years ago, she cooked dinner for President Bush and the Prime Minister.

After telling viewers what she cooked and why, she said, “Whatever they thought of the dinner, I’m pleased they were polite.”

Societal conditioning tends to discourage honesty in favor of polite discourse ~ urging us to stroke the Egos of “celebrity chefs” instead of giving our honest reaction to what they’ve served. 😉

7. mecalvincasey - January 21, 2011

Dang it! This is the title of my post for today… in my DRAFT file… today’s topic made me think of that exact scene and is one of my all time favorites… oh well, I guess I’ll change my post… don’t want to appear to be copying. However, my overall topic will be presented differently.

Nice post…

nrhatch - January 21, 2011

Don’t change your post on my account! I’m sure that your presentation will be your own.

One mind. One muse. 🙂

8. Cindy - January 22, 2011

nrhatch - January 22, 2011

Perfect song, Cin.

There definitely are women who would prefer to hear “sweet little lies” than the truth from the men they adore. Not me. I’ve never been much interested in being admired for my “packaging.”

And, if someone is laughing at my jokes . . . I want it to be genuine laughter. 🙂

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