Call It What It Is

Years ago, when I worked as a church worship director, the pastor told me one morning that an elder of the church was going to join us, that they had something important to tell me. 

Somehow, I knew what was coming. “You don’t want me working here anymore, do you?” I asked.

“That’s the way it looks,” he said.

I stepped from the room, called my husband, and asked him to also join the meeting. I had poured my heart and soul into my work and knew I needed moral support for what was to come.

After years of positive feedback for my job performance, I was rendered speechless by the hurtful things said to me in that meeting. The bottom line was that I no longer had a job.

“So, she’s fired,” George said in summary.

“Oh no, we haven’t fired her,” the elder responded.

George and I looked at each other in disbelief.

“Karen no longer has a job and she didn’t resign. Therefore, you fired her,” George clarified.

The elder and pastor shook their heads in disagreement. But at what? My husband and I, having years of experience with personnel issues in the business world, understood the truth of what had just occurred. Sadly, the church leaders did not. Their action was nothing but the firing of an employee. Why they couldn’t acknowledge that, I don’t know, but they were resolute in their denial.

This memory resurfaced when I learned that Vladimir Putin had a law passed that would put his countrymen in prison for up to fifteen years for calling his action in Ukraine an invasion or a war, even while tanks continue to roll and bombs continue to fall. Hundreds have been hurt or killed and millions have fled their country. Buildings, homes, and hospitals have been destroyed and rubble covers streets that are now patrolled by Russian soldiers. Putin calls it a “special military operation.” I call it a war. Most of the world calls it the same.

But Putin is as steadfast in his denial as the church leaders were when they fired me.

Why not call things what they are?

Maybe it’s too much to expect people to be truthful about matters of life and death when they have trouble being honest about even simple things.

George once took me for a Valentine’s Day dinner to a fancy tavern. My starter salad was delicious, covered with from-scratch ranch dressing. After a couple bites, though, I noticed something swimming in that lovely mixture: a bug.

Since we didn’t see our server, George snagged the maître d’ as he passed by.

“Sir, there’s a bug in my wife’s salad.”

The man peered into my bowl and said, with a wave of impatience, “that’s not a bug. It’s a fly. But I will have a fresh salad brought to you.” The man, in his elegant tailcoat, walked off with my contaminated food. 

When our waiter returned with a fresh salad, I turned it away, having lost my appetite. We were disturbed to be served unclean food, but what really scorched us was the audacity of the maître d’ to say that a fly was not a bug. Huh? That’s akin to saying a boa constrictor is not a snake.

Words don’t negate actions and denying something doesn’t render it untrue. A bug is a bug. A snake is a snake. A war is a war. Losing a job without resigning means a person was fired. You can’t make something true by speaking a lie.

2 Comments

  1. Name *michelle
    Apr 7, 2022

    Comment Tell it like it is sister!
    “No truth that crosses someone’s profit, ambition or lust is permissible. Unwelcome facts possess an infuriating stubbornness that nothing can move except plain lies.”
    -Hannah Arendt

    • Karen Curran
      Apr 7, 2022

      Amen!

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