When to Tell a Story

Perhaps nothing I write will ever prove of value or influence historical record.

Yet the truth has always served society and history. Social scientists and humanists have found journals, diaries, letters, and essays that have exposed daily life, perspectives on events, and interpersonal dynamics that have given critical insight into humans and their worlds.

Further, we all need to feel someone has shared our experiences and emotions. Perhaps reviewing my history—even the tricky bits—will help someone feel less alone. I’ve benefitted from narratives and visuals that have helped me better understand my own world and story.

And still—I hold back.

After time has passed, when things have changed, when people have moved on or passed on, when I can easily disguise the who and the what, then—definitely then—I’ll write about it.

Or is this reticence misguided?

What would you judge as the kindest, most empathetic course of action?

  1. Wounding or embarrassing someone—as long as you speak your take on the truth—when he or she can respond? After all, shouldn’t people have the opportunity to counter perspectives and claims when these avowals directly affect them?

  2. Waiting to tell a potentially hurtful story until a time when the people in question wouldn’t know what you’ve said—or will feel that no one could identify them?

What do you think?