When I am on my own, I can be really honest with myself. When I am with one other person, especially someone close, I am slightly polite, but mostly honest. When I am in a group, I am very polite and less honest. Sometimes I am surprised how honest I can be with complete strangers, especially ones remote from my day to day life.
This does not mean that I lie, more that I am putting on a bit of an act to conform to what I perceive as socially acceptable. Most people do this, except very little kids who are soon trained out of it. It’s considered a virtue, to be polite.
Making polite conversation is an initial way to connect to people, but I find it can be hard to voice my own truth. Which is one reason why I find writing online a good outlet for my thoughts. If my truth is too suppressed, too bottled up within me and unspoken for too long, I can suffer from a throat infection, which is a classic physical reaction to a suppressed voice.
The media helps to control the polite agenda by pushing the subjects that are ok to talk about, even offering the acceptable viewpoint that it is the one you should hold if you don’t want to offend anyone. The Olympics, the weather, cancer, the Royal Family, celebrities and TV programmes are all acceptable subjects to politely talk about. Conspiracy theories are not.
Polite means not upsetting people by stating any hard to take truths. It means not taking any risks with what you say, not risking being ostracised or ridiculed, not risking offending, not risking your reputation. I don’t want to upset or offend people, so I am careful what I say, but when I do present some truth without being defensive or angry or personal or arrogant or self righteous, people usually welcome it. I would say that people crave it. We are all desperate for some more honesty amongst ourselves.
How interesting that “polite” is almost the same word as “politic”! And really quite similar to “police”, which is like “policy”. Politeness and politics are both about the social facade and social acceptability.
The problem is that we are led to believe that we are the only one thinking differently to the polite facade, and it’s easy to believe that the majority believe in it. If we could be more honest with each other and let go of some politeness, I think we would slowly discover our shared true spirit deep within us all, and the polite political policed policy overlay would automatically start to crumble away without our support.
(See earlier post: Opinion Poll Control)