Fence riding – not making a commitment for or against - can be a habit all of us can practice trying to gain friendship with everyone.

Taking sides - disclosing our personal convictions – is a sure way to create friends and enemies. Having the bravery, courage and backbone, to be ourselves, to stand up and be counted, will win and lose acceptance and respect in any community.

The caution and hesitancy of self-disclosure is frequently practiced by wise politicians, epitomizing effort to avoid disagreeing with potential voters. Remaining in a nebulous, uncommitted haze as long as possible, can gain time to gain the affection of some voters. Any one of us wanting support, especially if we be in a leadership role, might be slow to disclose who we are especially on controversial issues.

A bold proclamation and disclosure of personal views and convictions will assure the applause of those who agree with us, but stir up the ire and opposition of those who disagree.

The comfort of being a “wishy-washy”, remote and mystical person, makes us a “non-person”. Too weak to declare, stand up and be who we are, might make us cowardice. Living in fear of being criticized we are tempted to hide behind a fixed-smile plastic face.

The relationship of two persons not sharing their real thoughts and feelings is NO RELATIONSHIP. It is a façade of social politeness, strategically keeping secret who they are. Living in such hyper-cautioned fear of self-disclosure, a true friend is never to be had, personal acquaintance is never achieved.

We bring a divine and often human condemnation on ourselves if not willing to express who we are, especially morally. “He who denies me before men, I will deny before the father”. [Matthew 10:33]

We all might practice some caution in declaring our personal political leanings. But, hiding our spiritual commitment denies we have any. The grotesque and repulsive scene of regurgitation in how God (Revelation 3:16) describes the spiritual spineless, that person being spewed out of God’s mouth in total disgust. “Because you are neither hot nor cold, I will vomit thee out of my mouth.”

The social mandate to avoid discussing politics and religion is at best a half- truth.

May we have an honest not a plastic face.

The Rev. John Burkhart Ph.D, is a retired Episcopal priest and retired professor of psychology. Contact him at jandmburkhart@yahoo.com.

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