Over the past year, I’ve lost two friends, both of whom I’ve liked and admired for over forty years. Neither of them died, though I mourn the loss of their friendship as much as I would have if that were so. They might as well be dead. They’ve both cut me off and refused to communicate with me, because I said something that offended them.
Now, I could have kept my mouth (keyboard) shut. Some would say I should have. I didn’t intend to offend either one, and tried very hard not to. I merely spoke the truth, as gently and gracefully as I could, in response to something they had said, to which I took exception. I simply offered a counterpoint, an alternative point of view.
Of course, social media has made us all hyper-sensitive. It’s too easy these days to cut other people off or out of our lives if they say or do something we don’t like. Much harder to do it face-to-face. But, that’s a subject for another day.
Sometimes, the truth really does hurt. However, I’ve found that what hurts more is sitting on the fence so long that I’ve grown numb. I can’t sit on that fence, trying my very best to avoid confrontation, any longer. It hurts too much.
Despite the best teachings of the modern world, which would have us value tolerance above all other virtues, we can’t escape the truth that, yes, Virginia, there really are wrong answers. The evidence of that simple truth is all around us, every day.
Echoing the wisdom of Aristotle, C. S. Lewis wrote: “Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality. ” (The Screwtape Letters) That’s very true, too. Without courage, we cannot test any other virtue, even tolerance.
We must find it in ourselves to muster the courage to say what is on our minds, to utter the truth, to give voice to our convictions, regardless of the consequences. Though we may lose a few friends along the way now and then by doing so, our society depends on it. That’s the truth. We sit the fence at our own peril. Sooner or later, we’ll get so numb as to fall off, one way or the other, and likely will get hurt even worse.