Monday, January 14, 2013

Secrets- a Rejoinder by Gopalan Parthasarathy

The following is the thought provoking and interesting rejoinder (to my post on "The Emotional (& Physical) Burdent of Keeping Secrets) that I received in the mail from my dear friend Gopalan Parthasarathy. We were colleagues in State Bank of India and many years later again in Kuwait International Bank. Gopalan is a prolific and gifted poet who contributes regularly to the facebook groups: Beacon Literary Group International, Helping Hands and Green LifeHe felt that the word limit in the comments section was curtailing his creativity and hence sent me the following by email.  I am reproducing his submission verbatim:   
Secrets are relevant in the context of objectives they are supposed to serve. For children they are just fun. For adults they tend to get serious.
Often the person sharing secrets may share the same with more than one person for the objectives of healing a hurt, sharing an excitement or consulting the other person(s)for overcoming a dilemma and making choices. There could be other objectives as well.
Often the objectives may not be shared objectives between the people "holding a secret". This is so because, the process is not focused on objectives the originator had in mind. The originator has an objective and lets the trusted person another. If the latter's objective is the request by the originator to maintain secrecy, it may not be a strong enough objective. The latter is insulated from sensitivity to consequences of not keeping it a secret. In other words, keeping the secret is not worth the burden.
Thus, if the persons concerned share an objective which they value, it is possible they may hold "the burden" long enough. When the objectives are not set, the "secret" loses some of its longevity.
Secondly, the number of secrets one can hold is limited - this is also for the reason of objectives. If the objectives come in conflict or some objectives are not worth the trouble, the mortality rate of secrets, if you may, will go up.
Thirdly, some "secrets" lead to additional requirements of having to keep fabricating stories and lies - here the weight of "secrets" as a burden keeps increasing.
Fourthly, ill kept secrets de motivate the person with whom they were shared in confidence.The person feels stupid for having guarded a secret which was nearly in the domain of so many persons around. In other words, it is hard to keep the credibility of the whole exercise.
Fifthly and not really lastly, over time the objectives set are outlived and the person who shared a secret is unlikely to go back to the trusted friend and say now the secret need not be kept any more. Obviously this is the ugly side. No one can expect the trusted person to become a warehouse of secrets with date of expiry of the secret kept as infinite.
The topic sets me thinking about "secrets" nations keep in the matter of defence or for that matter "secrets" about product formulae or Research and Development. The longer is the life of secrets, more are chances of an enemy of secrets emerging on the horizon. It is hard to say whether nations spend more for preserving secrets or for spying secrets kept by their rivals and perhaps even allies.
Now coming to lies, do perhaps serve objectives of secrets? Possible. A secret cannot be preserved in a vacuum. It may be better preserved in the august company of lies. The human appetite for information is enormous. It is unwise, so to say, to keep humanity starved of information in the name of keeping secrets. It is wise to feed them with "lies", "half truths" and "fiction". Look at the appetite among readers and viewers for fiction and non fiction. The appetite for fiction is almost unlimited. While we all start our lives learning to be true to our parents and family, we end up learning to be "not so true" to others - to the exception of a few more friends and relatives. Why is it so? Why are we insecure with truth? Why are we afraid the truth we know can be exploited by the other person? Sometimes our compassion, a noble truth about ourselves, has to be hid when we start fearing it is leading to a loose habit of borrowing (of course with little plans for repayment) by a friend or someone who is depending on us for financial emergencies.
Lies are self seeking. They seek to multiply themselves continuously. One lie to be well kept needs almost a continuous fabrication of so many others; otherwise somewhere the lies would get exposed - the tragedy of lies and the liar is that the liar has to keep an eye on all of them and ensure none of them gets exposed. And they grow monstrously trapping the liar into an endless, meaningless, unsustainable cycle of fabrication. It is vicious. The end is tragic - the liar has to come clean and embrace truth. That is the only way forward. So many scandals in the lives of celebrities are an easy evidence. The harder evidence may be hidden in any one and everyone's life.
Going to a different plane, sometimes one is forced to or one tends to keep one's good qualities a secret. For example, how long can we keep our compassion, a secret? Behind secrets and lies, there is somewhere, a fear or sense of security, a perceived outcome not preferred and not prepared for.
Sooner than later, time tells us the fears were unfounded. Time tells us truth cannot be played around and it is not worth it.
If we keep revisiting our situations when we thought of keeping a secret (and often failed to keep a secret) we may laugh at ourselves. But still we may not change our intuitive resort to "secrets" and "collateral lies" that go with "secrets". That is integral to our survival instinct. That is the void within our personality. That is the darkness we carry with ourselves, no matter how well we get lit in truth. Most of the biographies are written, as it were, to get rid of this darkness of secrets, lies, half truths and their after effects on us (this is the counterproductive side of the objectives, fulfilled or failed) in later years of one's life as it takes time to mature and graduate out of the process. A most important thing about secrets, lies and half truths is they are like junk food. They keep demanding you to have more of them. It is difficult to live on junk food. It is not advisable to have it at all. But still, the truth is we all end up consuming the junk food. We only vary in how much and how long. As the adage goes, truth alone triumphs but it lets a lot of half truth and lies to hang around and is indifferent to their growing population.
An ideal "sweet spot" in all our lives may be a spot where we do not get the appetite for a secret, a lie or a half truth or a perception that is as consequential as any of these, embracing the truth and the one truth that is supreme to all. That is the spot where one is free from survival. Free from objectives that drove one's life into trivial and sensitive secrets, lies, half truths and perceptions. Free to be real, once and for all. While one can aim to be in a direction to such a spiritual sweet spot, one is never sure when they can reach there and be there. There is a lot of secrets, lies, half truths and perceptions to go through before embracing truth in its purest form. And life as a journey is exciting, if it is, it is so not without these excitements, trivial or otherwise.
Thanks, Jammi. As usual, you have provoked me to think. My day is somewhat made. (Truly and it is no secret!)