Gods are fragile things; they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense. -Chapman Cohen, author and lecturer (1868-1954)

The importance of being earnest. Why does it matter if we tell the truth or not? Some people do it because it is a Judeo Christian ethic. Even if they don't personally belief they will be sent to hell for lying, they do have an odd discomfort with lying. Is this discomfort merely habit? What if we told our truth always, no matter the obnoxious consequences? Would it make society better? More Pleasant? Would this be the truth of being transparent? What if I hate your hairstyle and tell you so, what does this serve?

It serves my need to express myself. It may or may not get you to change your hairstyle. It allows me to feel smug about myself because I am "keeping it real." It allows me to be shocking, because I can see the tears in your eyes and know I that I caused them. Some people get a cheap thrill out of bad behavior. I don't believe that telling the truth at the expense of others is necessary. It does not equate that keeping your mouth shut is an abuse against self. You may still retain an opinion about hairstyles and such. If asked, you could voice your opinion, or not. Sometimes I sense what people want from me is reassurance. If the hairstyle is ok, just not to my taste, who am I to tell you how to wear your hair? Am I being less of a friend by keeping my opinion to myself? Some people would say "yes."

Four fifths of the population could benefit from some assertiveness training. Learning how to speak up, clearly and with insight about one's needs, is healthy. When we go through life judging ourselves as "wrong" we cut our selves off from many positive experiences. However, one fifth of the world does not problem with invasive and hurtful language. They really don't benefit from further exercises in open expression. They could actually benefit from learning how to listen. This one fifth of the population is often employed as teachers, pastors and managerial types. It is directly related to their ability to be comfortable center stage, and their capacity to care very little how others feel.

The problem lies in the wrong advice being given to the wrong set of people. For example, one of my friends when I was young suggested that us girls stop "looking for someone to love us, and look for someone to love." This was meant to be helpful advice. I really took it to heart. Neither of my husbands loved me. However, in marriage I found some one to love. It's not hard to love someone if you set your mind to it. You care for them, treat them respectfully, raise children together, pay bills. Being with men who didn't love me back, though, set up an uncomfortable dynamic with their constant disappointment with me and my person. With my first husband especially, he felt angry and annoyed with my physical needs. His schedule ran the roost. When my schedule matched his it was acceptable, when it did not, it was unacceptable.

He was most embarrassed over my lack of musical skills, never mind that it hurt my feelings when he told me to stop singing in church. I didn't think in a group setting like a church anyone really cared about my musical ability or lack of pitch. He didn't consider if I got any joy out of singing, off key as it were, as he didn't love me, his only concern was his own personal embarrassment. Because I loved him, I quit singing at his request. As I said, it isn't hard to respect the wishes of someone you love.

Now that I'm single though, I question the original advice. Maybe I should have looked for someone to love me. Especially since it's so easy for me to love. Being with someone who has consideration for my needs and preferences has been quite refreshing for me. I was in my 40's before I was with a man who brought home foods only I eat, for the family refrigerator. I was surprised and concerned the first time my friend spent his money on my yogurt. I offered to repay him. It was interesting and flattering to be with someone who took joy in being considerate of me. His actions led to me eventually loving him very much.

It is my belief that the reason why there is no shortage of life coaches and therapists and self help magazines and seminars in the world is because the right answer for one fifth of the world is completely different from the right answer for the rest of us. If you are a self absorbed person, concerned mostly with yourself, feeling lonely and alienated and misunderstood – you WOULD do well to start caring about other people. To listen with two ears, and speak less would be nice. To have compassion for others and make an effort to understand alternative world views would be absolutely life altering.

However, to the people who have already given up too much of themselves, lost themselves in child rearing, closed down for the sake of the family the opposite advice is better. For some women speaking more than they listen would re-grow their personality. Having an opinion would be powerful. My second husband told me "Nobody likes a 'mouthy' woman.'" We went to a church that strongly stressed submission. The husband was defined as the spiritual head of the household. We had a pleasant home, we never fought but once in our ten years total together. At what expense? He never even knew me. I was so used to keeping my own counsel, I just didn't share with him. I knew he would have no interest in my thoughts, creative work or hobbies. I spent my days keeping the house clean, supporting him in his ministry, raising my child, and making meals. It retrospect that doesn't seem like what God wanted. The relationship was so distant, like a contract. It was surprisingly devoid of intimacy considering how much I love him. I love him even now, although I can't interact with him while he's loaded on drugs.

My second husband wanted someone to love him. I thought I had convinced him I was that person long before he asked me to marry him. He wasn't looking for someone to love. He was looking for someone to love him. If my friend had given Howard the advice she gave me maybe he wouldn't have gotten so loaded. He would have seen that being high and all the self centered agendas that accompany drug addiction are not loving.