The 'Me' Projecttruth

Cruel to be kind or kind to be cruel? The role of truth and intention.

After finishing the latest cycle of Project: ME! with a client, I’ve turned my attention temporarily to my psychological book, Identity, Health and Women, which is now ready to go to print. I’ve approved the jacket and the text is back with the printer so now it’s on to the publicity for it.

November, when it hits Amazon and the shops, seems a long way off, but it’s giving me lots of time to reflect on the journey this project has taken me. It’s ten years since I first decided to work on identity construction and since then I have learned about social constructions and postmodernism, amongst many other things. I can honestly say that the day I realised how social constructions affect every one’s lives, my own life changed forever.

I understood better the way life is interactive and the cause/effect and synchronicity dialectic. In postmodernism I found the both simple and difficult possibility that there is no truth; this was infinitely comforting in a world where people set much store in subjective lies and a definitive ‘right’. This is different to moral right or ethical right, it is a subjective position based on unique experience providing and opinion or a point of view. People go to extraordinary lengths to prove that they are ‘right’. My comfort came from a knowledge that the insistence on this kind of ‘right’, determined by bigotry and intolerance, is steeped in power dynamics and a tool for oppression.

I could never have conducted my study for the book, or written it without this knowledge. As a consequence, ten years later I rarely feel that I am entirely right and respect other people’s opinions and experiences, as they are just as valid as my own.

My only qualification for this is the moral and ethical kind of ‘right’; that a person’s actions do not harm another person – if they do harm another person then this is morally and ethically wrong. This includes not only negative actions, but also the false positive ‘right’ of facilitation – it’s much more difficult to have foresight and see how difficult short term decisions provide long term greater good – this ‘cruel to be kind’ construction takes courage and empathetic reasoning in order to benefit others in the future and not just yourself in the short term. The easy way, whispered weakly in the soft tones of lazy complicity for approval and praise, when the whisperer knows full well the damage this can cause, rarely provides the most rewarding future for others.

It’s not even a case of knowing what is best for another person. More an examination of ones own intentions and desire for status quo at any cost (to anyone). In my own experience of immersing myself psychology and philosophy I have often questioned if I am on the ‘right’ path. Yet the following verse from Louis MacNeice’s poem ‘Entirely’ translated the struggle for strength and identity perfectly:

And if the world were black and white entirely
And all the charts were plain
Instead of a mad weir of tigrish waters,
A prism of delight and pain,
We might be surer where we wished to go.
Or we might be merely
Bored but in the brute reality there is no
Road that is right entirely.