I've Been Thinking...
I was talking to my brother Bobby the other day when he mentioned that a few people had told him that they listened to the podcast I recently recorded with my friends Hoda and Oprah.
On the podcast, both of them talked about getting what they called the “truth talk” from me. I think Hoda even asked Oprah, “Have you ever had one of those conversations with Maria where she just gives it to you straight, and you are like, ‘What just happened?’”
“You bet I have,” Oprah replied.
Bobby told me that he laughed when he heard that because he, too, has had those types of conversations with me. But then he said something that really got me thinking.
“You know, Maria, you have to be careful who you tell the truth to.”
“Why is that?” I asked.
“Because most people don’t want the truth,” he said. "We want the lie. It’s more comfortable. We can’t handle the hard truth, and we sure don’t want to deal with the truth. I’m like that sometimes. And so are you!”
I sat back to take a beat. Is that true? I needed to think about that. For sure, I know there have been times in my life when I was afraid of the truth. There were times when I asked for it, was pretty sure I didn’t get it, and then settled into the lie. Doing so was easier, just like Bobby said. Maybe I even preferred the lie.
The lies didn’t require action. The lies let me rest and go about business as usual. But at a certain point, the lies eat at your soul. They drag you down because you know somewhere deep within that you aren’t getting the truth. Then, eventually, the lies can send you off onto a truth war path.
Be careful when you go looking for the truth, because you may not like what you find. I guess the same could be said for when you give the truth to someone who asks you for it. You’ve gotta be careful.
We each have a decision to make when someone asks us to tell them the truth. Do we say the truth, maybe part of the truth, or do we muddle it to save a relationship, save someone’s feelings, or save ourselves?
Lately there has been a lot in our national news about the big lie and people’s willingness to believe it. There are people among us who still believe today that the election was stolen, even though there is absolutely no proof or truth to that lie. There are many who still believe the vaccination doesn’t help and is part of some government conspiracy. There are people among us who still believe that former President Trump had nothing to do with the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. This, despite everyone on his team refusing to testify and Trump himself doing all he can to block the truth the commission is trying to uncover. Thankfully, the House voted on Thursday to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for defying his subpoena on the attack.
Meanwhile this week, Trump announced the launch of his social platform TRUTH Social. Ironic is an understatement, and I almost fell over when I heard the news. The former president is the biggest gaslighter our country has ever seen, and now he is trying to own the word "truth"? Consumer beware. Actually, all of us must be vigilant that this word does not get co-opted by those who traffic in lies.
All of these lies, along with so many others, are threatening our democracy. They are threatening the truth of us. We are being told lies that tell us that we are each other’s enemy. Lies that tell us we can’t find common ground. Lies that tell us the “other” is the problem. Lies that tell us there is no hope and that we are headed for an inevitable collapse as a country. This is not true.
People who lie to you are trying to undermine you. They are trying to confuse you and throw you off your foundation, be it in your personal life or your public life. And the other problem with lies is that when you choose to believe them, you betray yourself. I speak from experience. When you choose to believe a lie, you lose who you are in the process. You lose hope. You start behaving in a way that undermines who you are in your heart.
I understand that many people feel disillusioned, despondent, or distressed these days. In fact, I had a conversation with a friend earlier this week that shook me to my core. He told me he loved his country, but that he was angry and fed up. He said he was tired of being gaslit by those in power. I think the truth is that we're all fed up with the lies. Misinformation is at an all-time high. So is distrust, not just in our government, media, health care system, or religious institutions, but in ourselves and each other.
No one seems to trust anyone else anymore. We are all swimming in lies to the point that no one feels like they know the truth of anything. Many even suspect that there is no truth. That’s why now more than ever, we have to each be brave and not just ask for the truth, but be willing to accept it once we get it. We have to be brave enough to handle what comes back at us. After all, our very democracy is on the line. We are on the line as a people and as a country.
So today, my hope is that we can each start trying to live in the truth of what is. I think the best way to begin is by telling yourself the truth about who you are today. Then, sit with that truth. Don’t shame yourself. Don’t blame yourself. Just be with yourself. Know that you are okay.
Remember, you are a divine creation. You deserve love. You are also here to love. Now start asking others in your life for their truth. Build up your truth bank. Stand strong when you hear the truth, even if it’s unpleasant. Start looking for it everywhere. Start asking for it from everyone—from your doctors, from your coworkers, from your partners, from your kids, and, yes, from your elected officials. You will know the truth when you hear it. You will feel it when it lands.
Next year when we go into midterm elections, our very democracy is on the line. That’s the truth. We can sit back and throw up our hands, if we want. We can buy into the lie that we can never come together as a country ever again. We can buy into all the lies we are being told, including that the other is the enemy. Or we can push back and refuse to buy into that. We can tell a different story, one that actually happens to be true. That story is that the vast majority of Americans are decent, kind, patriotic people. The vast majority of Americans want the same things. They want to live good lives. They want to be respected, treated with dignity, and feel seen, safe, and supported. They want to make a living, take care of their families, and give back.
That's who we are. That's us, and that’s the truth. Anything else is a lie. Hate is our enemy, not one another.
We are in a spiritual crisis right now, and anyone who has gone through their own dark night of the soul knows that redemption begins within. It begins when you tell yourself the truth, and when you choose to move forward in the spirit of love. We can declare that we are in search of the truth and that we aim to find it at all costs.
My brother Bobby is right. You have to be careful who you tell the truth to. But if we continue to believe that people can’t handle it, then we are all simply lying to one another. Then that means that the lie is way bigger than anyone imagined.
The truth is that every time someone has told me the truth, I’ve grown. I haven’t always liked hearing it, and on several occasions it almost broke me. But the truth is clarity, and it has always, always, always made me change into a different version of myself.
So as you move forward, dare yourself to handle the truth. Trust me, it’s way better than believing the lie. That’s the truth.
PRAYER OF THE WEEK
Dear God, give me the strength and the courage to speak the truth and seek the truth, even when it isn’t easy. When others try to sow lies or confusion, help me turn within and turn to you. Amen.
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