What is wrong with being sincere? | OP-ED
Jorge Luis Borges and José Martí advised us to tell the truth— to always being sincere.
My wise wife of 34 years, Elizabeth, always tells me to bridle my tongue, my natural inclination towards verbosity.
She is right —as most wives are— and I acknowledge it despite my initial discomfort at being corrected, although most of the time I derive satisfaction from being set right.
We journalists sometimes talk too much, but sincerely, the intention is not to be a burden to anyone; it is more complicated than that.
What is intended as clarity is interpreted as pretentious redundancy, I know, but just consider that the verbosity could just be the result of an internal combustion that oppresses first the speaker: his or her need to share his or her thoughts with anybody willing to listen, and, more urgently, the need to get it out of their system and understand it better in the process.
When you finally say it, you feel relief at putting it into words. Perhaps unrestrained but sincere nevertheless, the result of that incessant search for understanding it better yourself and urgently sharing it with others before the thoughts vaporize.
The combustion of ideas turns into words, and the heat that emanates from them comes out and empties your heart and mind. It returns one to daily life — much the same way a woman does after a long pregnancy and painful childbirth.
Jorge Luis Borges, probably one of the best Latin American writers of his genre and of all time, used to begin his lectures saying that the only promise he would keep during his disquisition was to “be sincere.”
José Martí, the Cuban extraordinaire who lived in New York at the end of the 19th Century, defined the same sentiment, which he considered indispensable in truthful human interaction, and left it for posterity in his most famous poem “Cultivo una Rosa Blanca”:
So, what is wrong then with being sincere, although at times copious in words?
Journalists would be wise to adopt a bit of Borges and Martí’s sincerity. How else could you be a writer, a good writer, without an ounce of credibility?
Journalists would be wise to adopt a bit of Borges and Martí’s wisdom and follow their example while engaging in the difficult profession of telling truth on a daily basis. How else could you be a writer, a good writer, without an ounce of credibility to do that?
Martha Gellhorn, one of the best foreign correspondents of her generation, put it best:
“Gradually I came to realize that people will more readily swallow lies than truth as if the taste of lies was honey, appetizing: a habit”— one nobody criticizes.
No matter how difficult it is —sincerity and honesty through our imperfect words and also through all our inevitable dealings with our fellow human beings— should be our daily practice and also a daily aspiration, perhaps as pure and simple as Martí’s “rosa blanca.”