Whenever we say things like “This guy keeps it real” or “She always tells it like it is,” we’re almost never referring to someone’s willingness to give a compliment or word of encouragement. And we’re almost certainly not referring to someone’s willingness to point out the things that would make us feel good about our world.
What we usually mean by these kinds of descriptions is something like “This person is not afraid to be transparent about the things that are wrong with you” or “This person has no qualms about pointing out the most despicable aspects of our world.”
It’s certainly a virtue to be the kind of person who’s willing to say the painful or scary things that need to be said. It’s a difficult thing to do. But I don’t think humanity’s struggle with the Truth, however, is limited to so-called “negative” truths. We also stink at things like being transparent about other people’s greatness or being genuinely appreciative of all the things that are right with the world.
I’ve seen lots of people who struggled to admit how beautiful, or talented, or intelligent, or helpful another human being was. I’ve seen lots of people who couldn’t “keep it real” about all the times their lives have been blessed with elements of goodness that they did nothing to deserve.
I get that people can often sugar-coat the truth in order to protect other people’s feelings. But people can also shit-coat the truth in order to protect their own egos. Both are dishonest.
I get that people are often scared of bad news, but sometimes people are also threatened by promising news. Neither is an excuse for living in denial.
The Truth is still the Truth even when it’s not negative. Even if you keep it real about the bad stuff, you’re still being delusional if you lie to yourself about the good stuff. Intellectual honesty works both ways. It’s neither rational nor cute to go around acting as if everything in life is a piece of shit.
Respect all the facts.