Beware Of Secret Agendas
Talk about secrets! Recently I received an invitation from someone representing an organisation which seemed on he surface to support many of the aspects and values that I promote here on Happy.fm. She (I’ll call her Sue) invited me to link to their site about “The Way To Happiness“, which has a web pedigree going back into the 1980s, which certainly sounded impressive. So I was curious why I hadn’t heard of this organisation before.
I checked out the website and, sure enough, it did promote quite a few aspects that I heartily support, including their appeals to:
- Be worthy of trust
- Know that true joy and happiness are valuable
- Realize you are important to other people. You are listened to and you can influence others.
- Be industrious
- Safeguard and improve your environment
- Set a good example…
But there was a secret beneath this that I found disconcerting.
In this case, the website appeared independent and was not endorsing any particular organisation. But when I saw the name “L Ron Hubbard” mentioned as the founder of this approach, I began to feel uncomfortable. Quite apart from any misgivings I may have about Scientology, I felt it was inappropriately secretive to not come out and be open about who and what the site represents.
This is a small thing. Yet it is also crucially significant. Integrity is about being open and disclosive (not secretive or maintaining hidden agendas. As a Christian, I like to think that Jesus was not into secrecy, merely discretion.
These days secrets are a big deal. You only need to think of Wikileaks, the NSA, and Ed Snowden to see how secrets are causing so much consternation.
You could argue there is a time and a place for secrecy and some organisations definitely do. But it becomes a murky world when matters of faith and relationship are built on falsehoods and secrecy. As a baseline of integrity we yearn for honesty, and it’s not too much to expect from individuals in relationship or from religious groups.
Although discretion could be deemed secretive, I’d prefer to call it respectful disclosure. It isn’t necessarily prudent to tell everyone your sister is going bald. Yet discretion shouldn’t be used as a cover to hide basic information that people would appreciate (like knowing where the toilet is when it’s needed).
No wonder we are less inclined towards listening to what people say so much as watching what they do. We’ve learnt long ago that talk can be cheap and changeable. Whilst actions confirm much more about genuine intentions.
For each of us personally, not being overly secretive is an important consideration. People like to know you for who you really are, and if they don’t like you, then so be it. But if they do, then they’ll love you for all the truest of reasons – because you are who you are.
Pinning up a sign (or a website or blog) saying this is how we should live has merit. But the ultimate message comes when, with time, people demonstrate the kind of dignity we can see and respect. As people we are the message, and in this day of over talk and streaming babble, that’s enough.
It’s not secrets that we want, it’s integrity.
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