This Much Is True

Dharma Comics

Dharma Comics

I hear The Boy, in a very sanctimonious tone, tell his sister, “You should have done it this way…” and I can hear him drone on in his self-righteousness; while simultaneously, a low-pitched whine emanates from his sister, and gets louder and shriller in a direct correlation as his “guidance” increases. Soon there’s a screaming match and they both come running to me to air their grievances and right their wrongs. He is Right. She is Right. So one of them must be Wrong, as they both don their capes of Indignation.

This happens so often that I literally can’t even remember the content of this particular argument. But I do know this: It’s better to be kind than right. And just because it’s true, doesn’t mean you have to say it out loud.

I pull The Boy aside. I allow each child to be heard, but I know exactly what just transpired–I witnessed the entire thing. He maintains he was just trying to be helpful. He is rigid with his shoulds and rules and what’s right and proper with the world. He lives his life by the most efficient, most effective, most right way to live and act and breathe (I might have had something to do with this early on in his life. I’ve since reformed). He was just pointing out to his sister that she should have done things this way, for a better and proper outcome.

La Chica screeches that she wanted to do it her way, and it worked out in the end. She lives life by what feels right to her, what resonates. She assesses what each action and outcome is worth, and chooses what speaks to her current values at that moment. She just wants to be left alone and doesn’t want to be criticized.

I try to teach The Boy that yes, this time technically he is right. But it’s better to be kind than right. Her decisions on that issue don’t really mean anything in the grand scheme of things. He needs to pick his battles, and unless safety or something else wildly important is at stake, let her do things her own way. Be kind to her, please. There’s value in not uttering every thought out loud, even if you’re right. And there’s even greater value in being kind and gracious.

The Boy says, “I was just saying. I was just being honest. It’s the truth.” And this is where I have to point out that he’s learned this through generations of this dynamic in my Asian family. My parents are masters of this passive-aggressive criticism. “I’m not being mean, you have indeed gained weight. It’s a fact.” or “Your daughter’s not as cute as she gets older. I’m just saying.”

People these days revel in what they proudly declare to be “brutal honesty,” when Brene Brown, PhD, rightly points out this is merely “brutal bullshit.” This goes back to what we were taught as kids–if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. Really, what’s the advantage in pointing out “a truth” if it potentially makes someone feel bad, or if it really doesn’t make a difference in the end, or if it’s just not kind?

As I was writing this, a newsletter from Still Water Mindfulness Practice Center pops in my Inbox. And as life so oftentimes comes full circle at just the right time, I read this passage from a Dharma talk by Thay Phap An, a senior monk in the Plum Village tradition:

Thay said, “What you spoke was not the truth. Truth is something that has the capacity to reconcile, to give people hope, to give people happiness. That is truth! When you speak and it causes damage, even though it may be correct, it is not truth.”

The truth should bring us together. Not separate us. Ain’t that the truth?

dharma comics

Dharma Comics

This entry was posted in Meditation, Mindfulness, Parenting and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to This Much Is True

  1. Beautiful story, comic and quote about truth. Let truth be that which empowers, uplifts and brings us together. Wonderful. Thanks, Brad


    • Thank you so much, Brad! Yes, you’ve summed up truth so eloquently!! There’s this false bravada these days of shoving “truth” into people’s faces and saying “But it’s the truth” when it’s really not necessary, and can be bullying. Simply saying “it’s true” doesn’t make it right! 🙂


  2. devinmarks53 says:

    Ok, I seriously need your writing routine. You are a MACHINE!


    • 🙂 Thank you!! I have made it a point to schedule both working out and writing as daily activities. If I don’t prioritize them, they won’t happen. I’ve found we do what’s important; Things we find interesting we do when it’s convenient. I make myself sit and write daily, even if it’s editing or the drafts never see the light of day. I’ve found it’s helped me tighten up as a writer and I think I’m finding my voice more. I personally can see the difference in quality of my writing from the first year of this blog to now. But I could also be kidding myself 🙂 Writing daily also keeps me honest. I see it more as “idea Making” so I’m more apt to be thoughtful about the day’s interactions and thoughts instead of barreling through them…. Though I always panic that I’ll run out of material!


  3. devinmarks53 says:

    LOVE this posting. Reminds me I’d a little reminder card I have in my car, desk window, in the fridge, and in my devotions box I share it not as a critique, but a option that adds nuance and double-layered face n the latter two points?

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

    love, Love, LOVE your writing and production rate. As a new-ish parent I struggle with getting own to page… Heading to KY for a visit solo. Planning on an essay-chapter-something. But really, just one of your blog postings! Are you running weekly now or?




    • GREAT MINDS. So funny, those 3 questions were the title to this post at one time, and I even created a graphic of it once I hunted down the author of the quote to accompany this….but then I found these Dharma Comics and thought they resonated well, and the questions were too long a title….but yes, that’s the gist of it!
      Happy writing!!! Like all things, the time and ability to spend the time to write waxes and wanes. Enjoy it all! 🙂


  4. SBB says:

    Thank you for the beautiful reminder…


  5. ah yes, what is truth? And do we have the right to tear the veil from someone else?. I think Scots/Irish parents are like Asians lol. We are all where we are supposed to be, hopefully trying our best with what is given us- all together in this time and place.


    • Ah yes, thank you for the reminder–we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be. And yes, I think back at former iterations of myself, and think what a holy terror I was, in my insecure quest to demonstrate my rightness and intellect and power by showing how right I was. All the time. It’s a miracle I had any friends, so I cherish my oldest friends the mostest 🙂 They’re saints!


  6. ♡eM says:

    It’s better to be kind than right. I appreciate this. And I think at times I want to be brave enough to be both.


    • Courage waxes and wanes I think. And the true bravery is the continued forward movement to be present in the next moment of courage. Or at least that’s where my head is at this moment…thoughts?


      • ♡eM says:

        Yes, I think it is the trend, the aim line of moving forward that matters most. Stepping into our own courage, slightly out of our comfort zone is enough. As long as we are evolving (the word choice here is perhaps a bit scientific), we are on our trajectory of courageous living.


        • Ah, yes–I think everything that matters happens outside of the comfort zone. I refuse to let the kids not do something if fear is the only thing holding them back–if it doesn’t resonate, that’s fine. But if it does, and they’re just scared, I don’t accept that as a valid reason–for myself as well. Doesn’t matter if it’s a baby step or a giant step out of the comfort zone. Just get out there! 🙂


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