Brian’s Reflection: July 15, 2010
Anything that consoles is fake.
Dame Iris Murdoch, author,
philosopher, born on this date,
“Consolation” is indeed a troublesome word. When someone says “consolation”, I think immediately “There, there; it will be alright”.
No. In most cases of really challenging Life stuff, it will be a long time before it will “be all right” – and for it to be “all right”, we will have to pull ourselves together and learn some basic realities and make some probably hard decisions. Life can be tough. Iris Murdoch knew what it was like for Life to be tough. Terrible depression and later dementia.
“Consolation” is from the Latin, “con” – with; and “solare” - soothe. You know, often when we are with friends who have been through Hell, we want to console them. But this very often means that we ignore or dismiss what’s happening, what’s really going on.
It is generally not a good idea to avoid realities. What Iris says is true: “Anything that consoles is fake”. She got, I suspect, a lot of “consolation” as she tried to deal with the hard realities of her Life. But it didn’t help. She killed herself eventually. What we all need is “tough love” – and I am reminded of the Biblical phrase “Speak the truth in Love”.
There is no way to lie in Love. No way. It will always come across as a Lie.
With each other, especially those we are close to, we must not “console” in difficult times. We must learn the gracious art of waiting until that loving moment when we can be honest, gently and with genuine Love. Before that time, Silence and Hugs are the best.
It is one of the great lessons of Life: never to be Fake.