Proper custodianship of facts

True integrity requires two things: One, an even-handed look at the facts. And two, proper handling of the facts. There are times when selective focus is useful, and even right. For example, to be helpful to someone, you may need to focus more on their good qualities than on the bad. You know that if a person harps on your faults, it is demoralizing and depressing, and hard on your self-image and well-being. The same is true of everyone.

There is a legitimate need to manage facts in such a way as to support the good. Let's say you get a job as a counselor in a juvenile detention home, working with young teenagers who have a bad history. As soon as each one comes under your care, you get a file with their criminal record. It tells you all the things that brought them here. And of course, you would want to understand this child, so you're certainly going to read it. But, the question is, then what do you do?

You have to decide how much you want to rub the kid's nose in his past misdeeds, and how much you want to support this kid in his inherent goodness. And you will understand that a dramatic favoring of his good aspects will more likely support his well-being and self-image than rubbing his nose in past mistakes.

Another example is the classic infidelity. So many marriages die because someone won't forgive "the AFFAIR." They forgot to forgive and forget. And, their bitter hanging on to this grudge, this grievance, this fact, was tremendously destructive -- a hundred times more destructive than the affair could ever have been. If you looked at the hurt and harm caused by holding on to a grudge like that, your integrity would virtually compel you to forgive and forget. The same is often true when someone has wronged us, or has a habit that irritates us. We do more harm by focusing on their flaw than their flaw could ever do.

So you see, intelligent custodianship of facts is mandatory. Anything less is erosive and destructive.

Just one more example of this type: Your child has a clubfoot. Do you focus on it? Do you harp on it? ... Say no more.

People worry about going into denial if they focus on the good. But it would really be denial not to use discernment in your focus. It would be a denial of your own intelligence and sensitivity -- and your understanding of how life works. Focusing on the good is not denial if you are doing it because you know it's the most healthy and helpful thing to do.

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