Thursday, June 20, 2013

The high price of complicity.


Truth or Consequences?

I think I’m on a kick regarding responsibility and truth telling. The impetus driving this preoccupation comes from a variety of venues, one of which was a Dr. Phil program I viewed yesterday (yes I too watch TV). The feature regarded a father and a daughter. In a very real way the father had been the key person who fostered and maintained his daughter’s severe drug addiction. There was obvious denial and justification embedded in their relationship. For years the daughter had ridden down the slippery slope. Desiring to spare his daughter from the consequences of her action, the father had effectively financed her addiction by buying her out of adversity, based on a misguided sense of love.

For whatever reason, the dynamics of their story troubled me greatly and I saw numerous parallels. All of us love someone and are loved by someone and none of us wishes for our loved ones to suffer. So what happens then? We anticipate what our loved ones wish for or can handle, calculate means of insuring the continuation of their desires (even to the point of sacrificing our own wellbeing) and become trapped by the process of fostering a mirage of ourselves and for them. We do it one-on-one and we do it culturally. This is not just a matter of interpersonal relations. It takes place in business when we try to imagine what our boss wants from us in order to insure the reward of a salary increase (or job security). It takes place politically when an elected official tries to imagine what it will take to get re-elected (or wealthy from kick backs). It happens in numerous venues and what price do we pay for such behavior?

First we become complicit in perpetuating a falsehood by presuming that we’re doing good. But is that presumption true? What is the result on the one (s) we love or are dependent upon? The first and obvious result is that it sends a number of destructive messages. It sends the message that we (instead of they) are better prepared to manage their lives. And the result of that is we deny them the opportunity of struggling with messy reality, one part of which is us. And the result of that is we weaken their capacity to deal with the real world. And what is the result on us from this behavior? It makes us the CEO of a lie with appropriate and attending senses of shame and guilt. Now we have a really big problem: In order to extract ourselves from this trap we must reveal our complicity and admit that we have been responsible for leaving our loved one(s) emasculated.

In the show of yesterday Dr. Phil asked the father: “is this the first time you’ve admitted that you are responsible for sending your daughter to her grave?” While harsh, the question seared to the bone! And we as well must cut through the complicated process of “administered love or dependency” and see where our actions are leading. No one serves another by withholding the truth. We may think we’re sparing them from adversity or insuring our dependent self-worth, but the sad truth is always that we deny them the necessary conditions that build character and strength of meeting the demands of living a life of honest responsibility. And we are to blame, both for the result on them as well as on ourselves.
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