An anonymous student wrote me a letter saying that he can’t help but tell people the truth. He says that if he keeps it to himself, he feels bad about it, doesn’t know how to deal with it, and he asked what he should do about it.
Well, first of all, he doesn’t know the truth. What he knows is only what his ego tells him. Moreover, his “outcry” isn’t really coming from the depth of the heart, but from the ego; he wants to force his opinion about what is true and what is untrue on others. He thinks he understands people’s situation, what they’re doing wrong and what they can do right, so he wants to force his understanding on them.
There is nothing here but ego, which I would say must be destroyed altogether. Who gives him the right to force his opinions, feelings, and preferences on others? Did anyone ask him to do this or expects this of him? Even if he thinks that he will do them a favor by this, it still doesn’t give him the right to soak them up with his understandings, conclusions, preferences, and goals.
If you want to know the truth, then the truth is that people have to be given free choice; they need to choose their own truth, and that’s the end of it. This is the most important principle in education—for children, as well as for grownups.
What he should do is keep silent, and understand how self-absorbed he is, to the point that he must stuff others with his views. This should be this student’s lesson and a lesson for all of us when we feel superior or more knowledgeable than others. It should also teach us how to relate to people who “tell us the truth.”
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