Sach Ka Saamna (Facing the truth)

Today’s supplement to the Times Of India carries a column by Vinita Nangia on the controversial TV show ‘Sach Ka Saamna’. Ironically the lesson Nangia draws from the show (as do many others) is

Facing the truth isn’t all that easy and some truths are best left unsaid. Each one of us has a dark side that is best left hidden from others; revealing our dark secrets can do nothing but cause harm to loved ones. As a young lady puts it succinctly, “There’re skeletons in every cupboard, and we shouldn’t rattle them!” Another adds, “Is there really anyone out there who doesn’t have a dark deed festering somewhere in his heart?”

This is bound to destroy a lot of relationships… simply because more questions will be asked… and more truths served up on a platter! Thankfully, we all have a choice — stop watching or at least stop trying to lift the veils of illusion; believe me, it is sure to backfire miserably…
(Emphasis mine)

I should note that I haven’t watched the show yet, nor do I intend to do so. I have no interest in the private lives of random strangers. But the concept of the show (from what I have read of it) is fascinating in the context of today’s culture. This is obvious from the attention the show has got. It is worth analyzing the issues that the show raises.

The show is about facing the truth about one’s emotions and actions and whether these are consistent with one’s consciously or implictly held value system. An emotion is an automatic reaction. It is determined by one’s values. If one’s emotions are not consistent with one’s values, it means that one’s value system is not consistent with itself. In any situation where one’s value system clashes with itself, there is bound to be conflict. It is not surprising that people act badly when they are in conflict. What the show reveals is that its participants and audience – judging by their reaction – are very often in conflict about a lot of very important aspects of their lives. And worse, that this conflict is usually brushed under the carpet by repressing one’s emotions or by indulging them stealthily.

By bringing this conflict into the open, the show has disturbed a lot of people. That is good. It is good that people are concerned about the truth. But the concern will not be of much use if it does not lead one to question its cause – the inconsistencies in one’s value system. But that is not what Nangia (or any other article writer that I have read) wants to do. They all want to brush the truth, the conflict and the show itself under the carpet. Some even want to legislate the show out of existence. All of them want to preserve their existing relationships even at the cost of the truth. They think that conflict is inevitable. There is a grain of truth to that. Man is not born with a value system. He has to create it for himself. And not being infallible, it is likely that he will make mistakes. So some amount of conflict is inevitable when those mistakes manifest themselves. But the mistakes can and should be corrected. And that requires facing the truth. Conflict certainly does not have to be perpetual. For most people, it is perpetual because they have never made the effort to explicitly create a value system or even to question the one they happen to absorb from the culture. Their method of dealing with conflict is to pretend that it does not exist. When someone exposes this pretense, they want to pretend that the exposure does not exist either.

There isn’t anything wrong about not revealing the entire truth to everyone. Honesty is not an unconditional virtue. It is merely a recognition of the fact that wishing something does not make it so, that reality cannot be changed by refusing to recognize it. It is a virue when one is dealing with rational people. There is no reason to reveal the entire truth to random strangers when one does not know whether they are rational or not. But when one is dealing with people one claims to value, there can be no excuse for dishonesty. If a relationship is weakened by the truth, it cannot be valuable in the first place. Anyone who advocates hiding the truth from one’s loved ones is doing himself, his ‘loved ones’ and everyone else a great disservice.

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2 Responses

  1. Excellent post once again!

    Although I still feel that, If you are true to yourself and are willing to admit that you did something wrong and are willing to correct it, i don’t see a reason why you should have to come clean even with your loved ones.And I totally agree with you that a relationship wakened bu the truth is not valuable, I have to say that more often then not it does leave them in a lot of pain, Why give them the pain? why not just admit to yourself, I screwed up and I will never do it again!

  2. Sachin,
    Nice to have you back.
    A relationship is a trade. I trade my time, effort, money etc for the pleasure of the other person’s company (if nothing else). This pleasure is derived from my evaluation of the other person’s identity – what he has done, what he intends to do, his ideas, his character etc. A mistake, even if it is corrected is part of a person’s identity. I would feel cheated if someone whom I love, wilfully withheld something from for the express purpose of keeping my evaluation of him unchanged.
    Moreover, everything we do and think, including ideas of morality and the importance of principles has to be learned. And learning does not happen without mistakes. No rational person should hold a mistake against my character if I can demonstrate that I have learned from it. Acknowledging and even discussing my mistakes with my loved ones is the first step in learning from them.
    If I find myself unwilling to acknowledge a mistake to someome one I think I love, I should ask myself why that is so. Is it because I do not respect my loved one’s judgement enough to trust him? Or is it because I want to keep my relationship intact even though I know that it would be broken if the other person knew of my mistake? In the first case the relationship is not as valuable as I might have thought. In the second case I have a desire for the unreal and the unearned and I should be trying to get rid of such a desire.

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