Monday, November 30, 2015

Truth and Lies

One of my "followers" on Twitter has paid me two incredible compliments that are dear to my heart, and those statements have prompted the following post.
I have many "followers" who have applauded my candor, and I thank them for that. But, there are people who run across me on Twitter who do not understand straight-forwardness, nor do they accept challenges. What those people do not understand is that I am allergic to lies. When someone approaches me with information that does not match with what I know to be true, I challenge it. If the person is able to persuade me that I am wrong, I change my assessment. However, most times people simply respond with "You are stupid!", "You are lying!", "You do not know what you are talking about!", or some variation of the above.
Let me tell everyone a little bit about myself. I grew up as an only child. I hated it. I kept begging my parents for a brother or sister, and I did not understand why they would not give me one (or more). To make matters worse, I was suffocated. They were over-protective to the point of obsession. I even got into trouble one time for giving our phone number to my school when the teacher asked for it, only to be tongue-lashed when I got home because our number was unlisted! I had absolutely no idea what my parents' problem was.
When I was 21, I went to visit my grandmother whom I had not seen in years. By this time, I had been on my own for a long time and was estranged from my parents. Soon after I arrived, she dragged out the obligatory photo albums, and while I really did not want to go through them I loved her more than anyone on Earth so I sat patiently as she went through her collection. My grandmother turned to one page and covered a photograph so that the only thing visible was someone's hands clasped in his lap. She asked me, "Don't those look just like your father's hands?" I looked and replied, "Yeah", and she uncovered the picture. I did not recognize the person, so I asked her who it was. Impatiently, she answered, "That's Mark, of course!" I said, "Mark, who?"
She gasped.
My grandmother turned white as a sheet.
She slammed the photo album shut, grabbed all of the books, stuffed them back into the coffee table, and started to turn away.
At 21, my brain worked faster than any super-computer. I demanded that she tell me who Mark was, already having a pretty good idea what her answer was going to be.
She said, "Oh, no! Your parents will kill me!"
I replied, "No, they will not, because I am going to kill them first!"
So, reluctantly, she told me what she knew of my parents' sordid past, which was not much. She only knew my father's version of events as no one in my family knew anything about my mother. The short story is they met while married to other people, fell into lust, and ran off together. It is the stuff bad Harlequin romance novels are made of, although my mother's divorce record turned out to be a fascinating read, complete with kidnapping, taking children across state lines, the FBI...everything you could want in a good mystery.
But, that day my grandmother only knew that they had met, eventually married each other, and that my father had three children by his ex-wife and one out-of-wedlock by another woman. So, I spent the following year investigating my own life. This was long before Al Gore invented the Internet, so I had to do it the old-fashioned way. Snail-mail and leg work. The results of my research do not matter. What matters is I learned how to detect the truth.
You see, I looked back on my childhood and saw a plethora of warning signs that indicated my parents were hiding something really big, but I was too young to interpret their behavior. Since my grandmother gave me what was then the shock of my life, I have learned to examine things. I have now spent 33 years as an investigator and analyst, and I have become a walking bullshit detector. I call it as soon as I smell it, and I am rarely wrong.
But, I have been wrong, and when I realize I am wrong I am willing to reassess my position. That is what analysts do. We make judgments based upon available information, and when other information comes along we reassess our previous judgment. At least, that is what a GOOD analyst does.
So, I thank my "follower" for having taken the time to give me the information I needed in order to change my assessment on a topic he and I went back-and-forth on for weeks. It was not so much my analytical ability as it was his patience, knowledge, and ability to present his facts in such a way that I was able to see what he was trying to tell me.
If only other people on social media (and in real life) had his talents.

Thanksgiving: A Lesson in Gratitude

I found myself becoming irritated yesterday as I watched people I know on social media talking about the various plans they had for today. ...