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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Is honesty really the best policy?

I watched The Proposal with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds again last night. I really enjoyed it and it got me thinking about truth, and the infamous adage that honesty is the best policy.

Bullock's character, Margaret, blackmails her assistant, Andrew, into marrying her so that she can avoid deportation to Canada. She almost goes through with wedding until a last minute attack of the guilts prompts a confession from the altar. Having agreed to get married and then get a quickie divorce, and thus maintain the secret reason for the marriage from Andrew's family, Margaret falls victim to love. Her admission of the farce of their engagement and impending nuptials, and her subsequent refusal to go through with the ceremony hurts and shocks everyone. She feels that because Andrew's family have all been so good to her, it would be wrong to deceive them so she tells the truth.

It might have been much easier on the family if she had have kept her mouth shut and gone through with it. But there's no drama there, right? Every film needs that moment, especially rom coms, when all is lost and it seems that the protagonists are not going to be together.

People talk about loving and valuing honesty, but most of us, I suspect have been burned by truth at least once in our lives.We are, to varying degrees, afraid of it, because we recognize its power. Being honest and open can be very risky because it leaves us vulnerable to pain. Truth can be weaponised and used to hurt people. Truth can be used against us by others, and misused by ourselves. Truth can be very dangerous.

At the end of The Proposal (spoiler alert) truth was what opened the way for Margaret and Andrew to be together. They were able to admit and accept how they each felt about the other. If we want intimacy we must have honesty, but because honesty can cause us pain, it must be mastered by love.

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