Tuesday, May 01, 2007


I used to consider myself a transparent person. I took pride in having no secrets, in always and in almost any situation, saying exactly what I think. Today, I tend to value my privacy and share less openly than I used to. Is this shift in my privacy policy a hardening of my heart due to the harshness and pain of the world - self-preservation in other words, OR have I just grown up and stopped being naive enough to think that honesty is always the best policy. I've been in two close relationships in my life (friendships) where my loyalty to those friends required deception, secrecy, and subterfuge. Now I'm not talking about industrial espionage or trading stock tips. I'm talking about personal things they were choosing to hide from other people, for whatever reason. Things I believed it was other peoples' right to know. Issues you can hide for a time, but always come out in the end, inevitably with harmful results. Why? Because in my experience (call me naive), people get hurt when they're tricked and deceived. They get angry. They may even take revenge or sever relationships. (Am I talking in too many circles for you to even understand the types of situations I'm describing? I am? Good.)

Does the rationale "It's none of my business" let me off the hook? Does telling myself that just because I have knowledge of a thing, I don't have any right to choose what I do with that information. And where does the value of loyalty and friendship fall in the priority list? Isn't it a positive character trait to be loyal to one's friends? To keep your friend's secrets? To keep your word once you've told them: "I will never tell." I guess I should've thought of that before I used the word "never." My grandfather took an oath during WWII swearing he'd never tell something so secret that I don't even know anything else about "it." He took the secret to his grave despite the fact that the events/facts he swore to hide were released to the public record before his death. I can't help admiring that. There's something almost romantic about taking a secret to the grave, right?

I don't know. I guess I'm struggling with this question right now, and I'm not sure I'll ever have the answer. Maybe you can learn from the mess I've gotten myself into the next time a friend asks: "Are you my friend? Will you promise NEVER to tell? Will you keep my personal secret FOREVER?" And maybe you'll think about it before you ask a friend to compromise her integrity to keep your friendship.