Sunday, January 2, 2011

let your 'Yes' be 'Yes'

I've been reading America's Queen: The Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, by Sarah Bradford. I'm about a quarter way through, and enjoying it very much; it's wonderfully well-written -- sharp, revealing, very entertaining. Last night I reached the point where JFK's father Joe highlights to his son that he must give up any thoughts of divorce if he's serious about running for the Presidency. "In the coming campaign," Bradford writes, "image would be all. 'It's not what you are, it's what people think you are,' as the Kennedy mantra ran" (p. 151).

It struck me as I read it that that's the mantra of a lot of people, not just the Kennedys -- the general human population perhaps. I wonder how many of the world's problems are caused by this focus on image, on externals, and not the real person, the inner man. It seems to me that in showing one side to the public, and another in private, deceit and hypocrisy are reinforced and encouraged; it's sad that we often can't tell if a person truly is caring, kind, trustworthy or noble (I'm not referring to people we're close to, of course -- presumably, hopefully, we know what they're
really like!).

This led me to think of Matthew 5:37: "Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes', and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one".

It's funny/sad how people often say things they don't mean, commit to things they never intend to see through, are double-minded, unreliable and dishonest beneath a veneer of friendliness, benevolence or magnanimity.

Some time ago, I caught up with an acquaintance I hadn't spoken to in awhile. We exchanged news, back and forthing for awhile, and then she requested photographs of B and R for a weekly children's style project on which she was working. I duly made time to select and send her a variety of photos that she could use. Unexpectedly, she did not reply at all to this. So I wrote her after a bit, asking if she had received the pictures alright. Many days later, she wrote back with a torrent of compliments and thanks, asking me also to please let her know of clothing brands she could feature (I did).

She apologised that she hadn't replied because my email had somehow gotten into her Spam folder (this of course is the intriguing, oft-used excuse of those who actually can't be bothered to write back, yet are unwilling to honestly say so). She said she was going to use the pictures in "next week's" feature. I replied asking her to please let me know when she did.

Well, needless to say, she never did use them, nor did she ever write back. Now don't get me wrong -- I am certainly not upset about this at all -- but I'm occasionally reminded of it and I just wonder, huh? As in, WHY do people do this? Why say one thing when you mean another, why say you will when you won't, why put on (in this case) an "image" of sincerity and bubbly affability, when the reality is an insincere hollowness? And if one can be like this in even small, simple things, how does one deal with bigger issues, matters of importance that require unshakeable integrity, commitment or trustworthiness? It strikes me as I write this however that it really doesn't matter whether something is small or big -- we should mean what we say all the time, be honourable and dependable in all our dealings.

Wouldn't it be nice if everyone was the same regardless of circumstances, or who they're dealing with? If people were frank, straightforward, and genuine -- weren't phony, superficial, or false? If you could take a person at face value, and at their word?

1 comment:

Amy said...

Absolutely, sweet friend! The world would be a different place if we could truly count upon each other, wouldn't it?

Thank you for the wonderful food for thought. I aspire to be as your posts urge us to be. :o)


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