The Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth

The first to speak in court sounds right— until the cross-examination begins.     Proverbs 18: 17

I can say a hearty AMEN!, to this proverb. When I was a police officer I spent many a day sitting in court, and sitting through many a trial. I found trials quite intriguing. Trials follow a very specific and detailed process, while slow, actually allows the judge and/or jury to have a more rounded picture or what really occurred. It’s one thing to hear one side of the story, but it’s quite another thing when you hear the other side’s version. What you thought was the truth turns out to be a part of the truth – but not the whole truth. It’s when you hear the whole truth that you are able to come to a right conclusion…most of the time.

Now, in case you think that is all this proverb is about…allow me to unpack it for you. This proverb speaks to a much deeper issue, and that is what we think we understand/know about a situation, person, or what we think we observe, is generally not a full understanding.

Here’s the problem. How we view people, any given situation, or even what we observe, is not necessarily the true reality. Let’s take something that we have all observed. Have you noticed when the moon is close to the horizon that it appears much larger than usual? The natural tendency is to think that the moon must be so much closer to the earth – hence, why it looks bigger.

The truth of the matter is the Relative size hypothesis. Huh?? Simply put, objects in the vicinity of the horizon moon exhibit a fine detail that makes the moon appear larger (Wikipedia). Okay, to make sense of what I’m saying, it’s the same thing as the Ebbinghaus Illusion, where a circle appears larger when surrounded by smaller circles, than it does when surrounded by larger circles. Really? Well check this out.220px-Ebbinghaus_Illusion.svg

Bottom line, not everything is at it appears at first glance. And that goes with everything. So next time you’re itching to jump to a conclusion because, “I just call it as I see it!”, remember the Ebbinghaus Illusion.

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To Spank or Not to Spank!

A wise child accepts a parent’s discipline; a mocker refuses to listen to correction.

Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.      Proverbs 13: 1, 24

So now that I have your attention, stick with me through this short journey into this ‘touchy’ subject (no pun intended) of child discipline.

It’s unfortunate, but true that many of us assume that these two proverbs are endorsing parents ‘spanking’ or ‘punishing’ their children. And you know what they say about ass-u-me… 😉 . What these two proverbs are talking about is the wisdom of accepting discipline and the responsibility of giving discipline.

Forms of child discipline vary from generation to generation, and culture to culture. I am of the belief that humanity shifts and changes as each generation learns from the previous one. The hope is that we see continual improvement as we become more knowledgeable. However, there are times when because of the fault of one generation, the next generation throws the baby out with the bath water. I think when it comes to the responsibility of parental discipline, we have done just that. I belong to the ‘Boomer’ generation and we did learn from our parents the HARD way…that beatings and strappings, etc are a tad archaic! But the Boomers (not all, but many) and the generations following (not all) have thrown out discipline along with physical punishment. Bad on us.

In doing that, we have reaped a much weaker and fearful generation. The beauty of growing up as a child is that you have this belief that you are invincible, and so you are willing to try and do anything. But trying anything without a sprinkling of wisdom can take you down the wrong path with not-so-nice consequences, and that’s where discipline comes in. Parents have a responsibility to discipline or correct (redirect to the right path) as their children are growing up. Why? Well because while learning via the school-of-hard-knocks is effective, it doesn’t even come close to the loving correction from a parent.

Secondly, by giving my child the discipline that he or she needs, I am also instructing them in the way of life, cultivating a sense of security within themselves, protecting them, and teaching them the importance of self-restraint and self-discipline. When we practice those two things – with ourselves and with our children, we are building character within ourselves and our children.

Thirdly, while I believe that we live in a beautiful world, I also know that it’s a tough one. Discipline lovingly given instills within a child a sense of self-confidence, wisdom, and the opportunity to fully enjoy life. But when we bought into the notion that saying ‘no’ to our children, or giving guidance in all areas of their life as being ‘mean parenting’, we now have a generation of children and young adults who lack confidence in themselves and fear the world outside their door. In essence, I believe that we have robbed them of the joy of life.

Solomon was correct when he wrote, “Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.”

Selective Correction

Anyone who rebukes a mocker will get an insult in return. Anyone who corrects the wicked will get hurt.  So don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you.

But correct the wise, and they will love you.  Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn even more.               Proverbs 9: 7-9

I’ve never been one to shy away from the yearly performance evaluation.  If it’s done with the right intent, then it is actually helpful and allows you to improve your weak areas.  The key is if it’s done with the right intent.

Correction.  I’m not sure what comes to mind when you hear that word.  Perhaps it brings back memories as a child at home or at your school.  Or maybe it’s the supervisor losing it on you.  Depending on what you experienced in life when it came to correction, you have probably formed your own definition.  If you have negative feelings towards correction, then you may have confused it with punishment, or worse…abuse.  Correction is neither punishment nor abuse.

The sole purpose of correction is to bring something into proper alignment.  It’s about fostering health in a person’s character, shaping them to be the person God intended them to be.  Correction never demeans, belittles, denigrates, or maligns.  Correction believes the best about the person and in fact, desires the best for that person.

Solomon calls the wise to be selective in who they correct.  In other words, if a person is known as one who cannot receive correction without being offended, hurt, or angered, then Solomon says to not bother.  It’s better to correct the wise and righteous person.  Why?  They will actually listen, apply what they have learned, and become the better person for it.  They are the ones who will be an influential and positive force to be reckoned with in our world.

If your next performance evaluation comes with a bit of correction, before you take offense and sulk and complain to others about your ‘jerk boss’, pause for a moment and consider the intent behind it.  If the intent was coming from a heart that believes the best about you, then take a few seconds to thank your supervisor for the correction. Seriously…do it!