“We appreciate frankness from those who like us. Frankness from others is called insolence. “ – by Andre Maurois. Mr. Maurois was never more correct when he said this. For those who are curious, he was a French author who lived through WW1 and 2, and died in 1967.
For ages now, all of us have been hearing – “Be frank and tell me”,” Please. If you have any issues, don’t hesitate to discuss with me”, “For heaven’s sake, please be frank and get to the point”,” I appreciate frankness and honesty”,” I need my critics more than my friends, so please don’t be afraid to tell anything.” Frankness – or the quality of a person to tell people exactly what he/she thinks – is said to be a lost quality, which is supposedly appreciated always.
Wrong. Like everything else you hear, it’s all a lie. While honestly made good complements are always appreciated, and often fetch suitable rewards, honest opinions about disliking something is never, ever appreciated, especially by people who are in charge of those things. One must not confuse frankness with rudeness. For example, when you tell someone that they look terrible and don’t deserve to be wearing that expensive dress, you can just not say that you are being “frank” and try to escape the fact that you are just being plain rude.
These days, people like being politically correct always. You will never hear anyone saying outright that they think something or someone is good, bad, right, wrong, etc. For example, reporters never said that Ajmal Kasab, who was seen in full view by a million witnesses killing people ruthlessly with a machine gun, “was responsible for the Mumbai Attacks on 26th November, 2008”. He is always referred to as “Ajmal Kasab, held captive for allegedly being a part of the Mumbai Attacks” or some such thing. Don’t miss the italics and the bold font. And it’s not their fault either. Reporting in any other way may lead to serious legal issues which is a headache nobody needs. And thus, this is the age of the politically correct. Nobody wants to “make a statement” else they “will have to take responsibility for it”. Quite right, one may say. After all, no one wants to get into trouble.
But that’s the bone of contention here – there is no value for frankness today. This is the stark reality. Nobody wants to know the truth, or cares. In the corporate world, no one dares to be frank with their boss and say that they don’t think his latest idea is the best one. In most colleges, almost none of the students have the courage to stand up to their managements. Those who do, often find themselves alone and abandoned. They either get squished by the authorities, or back down and return to living a life of subservience.
M.K. Gandhi had described that the path of truth is the most difficult path of all; it is like walking on the edge of a sword. People who are straight forward often have to deal with being stuck with labels like “Cruel”, “Rude”, “Critical”, “Trouble maker” and so on. Society never gives them the backup they need in order to make the change they know the society needs. They often are lone warriors on a suicide mission. They have to always fight their own battles, and because they had dared to voice out what they felt, what probably many people were feeling, they have to take all the blows. And if they do win a battle, and the other side has to concede defeat – they are asked to bear sole responsibility for implementing the alternative. People watch them with bated breaths. If they fail, they are destroyed by society. And if they win, rarely are they ever given the credit. And thats the price the warriors have to pay.
But to these warriors, the victory isn’t in getting credit. To them, it’s the cause that matters. And they feel rewarded when they see that change happening. They say Truth is God. So fighting for the truth is to be fighting for God. Although the price of frankness may be high, for people who are true at heart and have good intentions, it never matters. They are above the chains that society puts on them. Although they feel their weight sometimes, they can never get tied by them. They fly free and happy, free of the burden of lies and a heavy conscience.