Friday, October 23, 2009

I've never been very atuned to social niceties, I've just never been very good at them and covered with pious statements about not being concerned with what others thought of me. But when a recent Northwest Airline flight to Minneapolis overshot the city by 15o miles one of the passengers reported that the pilots said the reason was because they were "bickering about Northwest Airlines company policies," and they would be landing shortly.

Now even I know that the word "bickering" indicates a serious case of foot-in-mouth desease. "Distracted" would probably not have been much better. It seems the company spokesperson probably put the best possible spin on it and called it a "heated discussion." Jay Leno thinks they fell asleep. I know polititians who would have called it "searching for better ways to serve you."

So, when is it OK to "spin" the truth? And how far "spun" becomes a flat-out lie? Casuistry has never been my strong suit but I would argue that if your motivation is to save your own skin you may very well err on the deceptive side. If your motivation is to ease another's pain you will probably be better guided, even if it begins with a frank admission to the truth. After all, Jesus did a lot to ease others' pain in this life, and in the end gave His life to ease our eternal pain. That seems to be the more Godlike thing to do. So in the long run, maybe "bickering" wasn't the most politic thing to say, but coupled with a sincere apology, could have been the best.

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