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Over the past 6 months, I have been trying to inculcate the habit of quickly filtering what I am about to say for a “mean-ness” check. I am working on this because I realized years of terrible thinking patterns had led to this weird habit of saying mean things- under the garb of “frankly speaking”-without realizing it or consciously intending to do harm.

Harm was done nonetheless. I want/ed to change.

“In all honesty”, “the truth is”, “I am just going to say it”- these prefixes were added to redeem myself of any internal accountability that might have followed. “I was just being honest”.

“Frankly, I think she is dumb”

“Honestly I don’t even like him”                            

“To tell you the truth, I don’t think she has a good intent. I would tell you things but… leave it”

Do you see the problem here? Besides the obvious that these are terrible verdicts to pass on someone.

These are things to be felt only. Not so proudly perhaps. Addressed within, if you have the courage for that kind of introspection. But to say them out publicly and to console yourselves with the garb of “honesty”- I don’t know.

I was reading Ashfaq Ahmed’s (writer/novelist/thinker _ damn, thinker used to be an introduction!) biography and I read his views on “speaking the truth”. In an incident when he told his mother, “I will write the truth!” His mother got startled.  She said, you make sure that truth pertains only to you. Truth spoken about others is malice, its darkness. Truth when spoken about your own self is light.

That made me think long and hard and made a complicated thing pretty simple. Here’s what I told myself:

Don’t give yourself a golden honesty star- after having said something mean about someone, in their presence or worse, behind their back. Don’t pat yourself for not having a filter. Have one! Please.

Artwork by: Areesha Zaki

(Disclaimer: This article pertains to the attitude where “honesty” is used to cover up unhealthy cognitions and actions in our personal dealings. It does not in any way attempt to comment on the value of honesty and truth in matters pertaining to law/justice).

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