By Bob Chrisman
It would strain the imagination of anyone to believe I have escaped false accusations in my long life, so I won’t try. Early on, the world taught me that attention and praise attracted mean and nasty comments from other people. My life’s goal became to blend in with the world around me, to not stick out. That never worked for me.
The song, This Little Light of Mine, from my childhood Sunday school keeps running through my mind. The lyrics tell us to let our lights “shine, shine, shine” and never “hide it under a bushel.” I tried to hide my light, but I might as well have tried to hide the Sun. Took me almost forty years to raise my light. I admitted to myself that I couldn’t dim the brightness.
One consequence of shining brightly is being accused of doing things I didn’t do. High profile people make easy targets for unhappy foes. I know lots of people. I know lots of things about lots of people. I know lots of secret things about lots of people. They’ve told me their secrets. As a result, I’m sometimes the first person who comes to mind when someone feels betrayed because one of their secrets got out.
First, a secret is something that not more than one person knows. Secrets lose their secret-ness when two or more people know. If you want to keep a secret, don’t tell anyone else.
The most hurtful thing I have been accused of doing was telling a secret I didn’t even know. The person confronted me with my alleged indiscretion. “How could you tell him about that incident?” he demanded. “What reason could you have had for divulging that embarrassing information?”
“But, I didn’t even know about that situation. How could I tell anyone else?”
“You liar. I’m giving you a chance to come clean. How can you stand here in front of me and lie to my face?”
I toyed with the idea of admitting my guilt, even though I hadn’t told. Then I could throw myself on his mercy. I wanted to remain friends, but I hadn’t done anything. I repeatedly denied any part in telling the secret.
“You aren’t my friend anymore.” He ended the drama by stomping out of the room and slamming the door. We haven’t spoken since that confrontation.
Later I learned that he found out who told the secret. That betrayer and the betrayed forgave and forgot. They remain friends to this day. Sometimes knowing that bit of information hurts more than the false accusation.
-Related to topic post WRITING TOPIC – 3 QUESTIONS. [NOTE: This is the second of three questions mentioned by actor and writer Anna Deavere Smith in an interview with Bill Moyers (see link). She talked about the questions in the context of interviewing people and listening to them. The three questions came from a linguist Smith met at a cocktail party in 1979; the questions were, according to the linguist, guaranteed to break the patterns and change the way people are expressing themselves. QuoinMonkey, ybonesy, and frequent guest writer Bob Chrisman take on the three questions by doing a Writing Practice on each.]
-Also related to posts: PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by ybonesy), PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman), PRACTICE — Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (QuoinMonkey)