Thursday, 2 December 2010

Just Because You Can ...

When I was in business, it was part of my job to discuss staff, their performance, their possibilities and in that to be frank and honest with the person to whom I was talking. I do that in certain aspects of the work that I do now. 

I am someone who believes that truthfulness is good, but delivered in complete terms can also be very harmful. 

A film was made a few years ago, a very funny film starring Jim Carrey that attended to the damage that absolute truthfulness can cause. Called 'Liar Liar' it told the story of a man who was caused to tell nothing but the truth. His world unravelled and he lost almost everyone who was close to him, not because he was a terrible human being or a monster, but because the truth, while absolute, is like a light. Too much and in too high a concentration causes damage to the eyes!

And so we have Wikileaks. This issue has been examined at length in other blogs, so I will try not to copy or mimic their work, but it is an issue that causes me some worry. For those of you as yet unexposed to the entity called Wikileaks (where have you been?), it is a site that publishes leaked documents from official organisations like governments and their departments. Leaks of American diplomatic discourse, opinion about Russian policy - all such things are making headlines. Apparent slurs of individuals are counted among this number. My post won't even begin to unpack the potential for misinformation, agenda forming, accuracy or other value measures of the site itself.

At the face of it, their work is easy to defend - the noble propagation of the mighty and unassailable truth. However, truth is contextual. Were such a thing written down, you could leak a document stating that I claim to be attracted to fifteen year-old girls. It would be the truth - or at least the truth in the context of the other fact that I was also fifteen when I expressed such a thing. Somehow I sense that the latter fact, the other truth, would not emerge. One Cloakey down the plug-hole.

So, back to my office conversations. There were times when I expressed concerns about honesty, work ethic, appropriateness for role. They were all things that I said. They were expressed  in order to work through issues of staff management, and therefore caused me to act in certain ways. Were I to have had those conversations in the presence of those staff members, it would have been outrageous behaviour, and would likely have caused my own demise. 

So, just because you can leak a document - it doesn't mean that you should. Not all truth is for public consumption. Frankly, I don't think any of us want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but - I don't think that we are made that way. The leaks that are making news headlines in this week are in danger of breaking up relationships between nations, hurting the ties that bind people, nurturing yet more distrust. So the Americans said this or that. Would any of us want every thing we say published? To my mind, we all work out our place in the world by working through problems and dilemmas concering other people. We have to have opinions in the longer or shorter term which don't need to see the light of day. If our every word is in danger of publication, then dialogue will cease, trust will fail, opinions will not be held, and things will start to unravel. 


  1. Greetings, David - been reading your blog for a while, and am enjoying it. Just wanted to say that, amidst the flurry of comment on Wikileaks this week, I think this is the most intelligent and insightful observation I've read. Keep it up!

  2. Hi JP - thanks for this; from you, it is compliment indeed as I know you have blogged for eons now. Congratulations on Gloucester too - a wonderful job for which you are well gifted!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...