Tag Archives: Honesty



I killed a spider. 

Squashed it. 

It was smaller than the foremost segment of my pinky. 

I know, I know, you’re probably rolling your eyes wondering what the big deal is.  I don’t want to kill things, especially if they haven’t done anything wrong.  If it were outside, I would have spent a minute looking at it before wishing it well and continuing on. 

But this one was in my apartment.  And if I’d taken the time to find something to capture it with, it’d be long gone before I returned.  The cats would find it later and that could be disastrous.  Or it might crawl into bed with me.  Or find its way into a fold of my clothes.  Or jump at me while I was in the shower.  There’s no telling what might happen.  I grabbed a nearby sock, hoping she’d crawl onto it and give me enough time to get to the door (I wear knee-highs; it could happen!).  My plan was foiled when she started to scramble towards my hand, and I freaked. 

So, as quickly as I could (because I hate to cause pain and suffering), I killed it. 

And then I was sad.  I’m even a little sad as I write about it.  She and I were probably equally frightened of each other, but because I’m a bajillion times bigger, my fear got its own way.  And the last thing that little spider felt before she died was fear.  (Which is not to say that I think spiders have feelings like we do, but her physiology was geared to the fear-response.)

We could have both won.  I could have let her stay.  I could’ve redirected her to a quiet little corner and we may never have seen each other again.  Or I might’ve had the courage to scoop her up and take her outside, where she’d be much happier.  I could’ve found out what type of spider she was, and whether she could do any actual harm.

I think of how in some way or another, we often kill when we’re afraid.  Not only in wars and bug-squashings, but in ways we don’t always think of.  We kill people’s egos & hopes; we kill relationships;  we kill kindness and overall goodwill;  we kill community and cooperative efforts.

What’s probably happening is that we’re not recognizing fear for what it is; it’s disguised as another emotion.  Many years ago someone said to me, “When you’re angry, ask yourself, ‘what am I afraid of?’.”  I’ve found it to be a helpful exercise, but it does require some digging, and you can’t be afraid to become vulnerable enough to answer truthfully. 

For instance, I get angry when I get interrupted during a hectic workday.  What am I afraid of?  “Nothing, dammit!  I just wanna’ be left alone to do my job!”  Dig deeper: What am I afraid of?  “I’m afraid of not being able to finish on time; afraid of getting in trouble for not finishing; afraid of someone going another day without help because of me.” I picked an easy one but you get the idea.

I’m no psychologist (nor do I wish to be one), but I’m sure our fear is disguised by things other than anger.  And if we’re not mindful, we could be going around killing where peaceful solutions might be found.  It would be helpful all around if we recognized our triggers and answered, What am I afraid of? Sometimes when we break it down and reason it out solutions come to mind or the issue doesn’t seem as frightening as it once did.



Let’s Be Honest Here


When I was a believer, there were times that I questioned God’s motives.  I recall bitterly muttering that God’s got one helluva’ sadistic sense of humor.  I revered my dear friend Barbara as if she were a sage, and a flawless one at that.  When I approached her with my misgivings and she explained them away, I swallowed my feelings, accepted her answer regardless of my doubt, and put it out of my head.

Not only was that cowardly; it was dishonest.  I chose to bury what was clamoring for exposure. It doesn’t matter what conclusion I might’ve come to if I’d truthfully explored my doubts. The point here is that I wore blinders to protect my beliefs, to soothe that awful feeling in my gut.

To wrestle with the truth, even to wrestle with wrestling the truth, I think, is genuine and virtuous. It requires the willingness to subject my cherished opinions and ideals to utmost objective scrutiny. I find myself curious to learn if I even know how to do that. Further, if my notions don’t pass rigorous testing, I’ve gotta’ be willing to modify or even completely abandon them.

Sometimes that sounds a bit disconcerting to me. Perhaps it’s true that a good deal of our identity is derived from our beliefs or opinions. I know it’s been noted often that people feel personally attacked when their ideas are attacked.

But I also sense a little twinkle of freedom at the prospect of being so transparent, of being open to exploring and learning until I’ve arrived at a conclusion…which might also change at some future time. There’s a certain purity to be gained in relentless honesty with oneself. Not to mention that the more honest I am with myself, the more honest I’ll be with others.

I need to remember that losing an old way of thinking doesn’t mean losing part of myself. It’s like I say on road trips, I’m not lost; I’m right here.