I previously wrote a post called “Secrets, Confidences & Privacy,” in March or 2006, promising to write more. You can click this link:
That blog gives some of the development of my thinking on the matter.
I notice that it was written a year before April of 2007. When I share this blog with people, I give a disclaimer that I no longer believe much of what I was writing prior to April 2007, but I leave it up as historical development and to connect with people who might connect better there. But what I would write now on the same subjects is significantly different. I re-read what I wrote, and while I would alter my allusions to spirituality and inner guidance to be more factual, and include conversation on “whose business am I in?” I would generally stand by most of what is written there.
My theme was the question of whether the expanding & contracting universe is a safe place or not. Let me review and then continue.
I will use words & phrases like “generally,” “usually,” “often,” and “most of the time,” for the benefit of those who are not seeing things the way I do.
Secrets generally hide something that we believe would hurt another or ourselves. Usually, we hold things secret out of shame or guilt, or fear of the judgment of others. We keep secrets usually to deceive or hide.
The Online Merriam Webster gives the origin of the word, “secret,” from the Middle English, from Anglo-French secré, secret, from Latinsecretus, from past participle of secernere to separate, distinguish, from se- apart + cernere to sift.”
It might be informative to check the synonyms and antonyms listed there:
“Synonyms: backstairs, behind-the-scenes, clandestine, covert, furtive, hole-and-corner, hugger-mugger, hush-hush, private, privy, sneak, sneaking, sneaky, stealth, stealthy, surreptitious, undercover, underground, underhand, underhanded
Antonyms: open, overt, public”
Confidences, on the other hand, are generally held in areas where we may feel we are vulnerable, sensitive, “wounded” or learning. A confidence may be more temporarily held, and more likely to be shared when we learn … confidence! Internal confidence in ourselves, our views, our choices, preferences & lifestyle. We keep confidences to protect. A confidence is held out of respect or for healing. Once we feel safe, we may share these more freely.
The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary definition of confidence that applies is “reliance on another’s discretion.” “Discretion,” it says, comes from the “Middle English, from Anglo-French discret, from Medieval Latin discretus, from Latin, past participle of discernere to separate, distinguish between.”
Privacy, as I wrote before, is often not explicitly spoken of, and thus, is harder to pinpoint, define or follow. It is quite a slippery subject, particularly from culture to culture and from era to era.
The Online Merriam-Webster, gives the origin from “Middle English privat, from Anglo-French, from Latinprivatus, from past participle of privare to deprive, release, from privus private, individual; probably akin to Latin profor, in front of.”
The bold in the definitions is mine. I highlighted separate, deprive and individual.
Secrets, confidences and privacy separate one person or a group of people from others, deprive others of information or knowledge and are a feature of individuation, a word which contains the same root as “divide,” which also means “to separate.”
While I was Googling for other information on these topics, I found the following article by Thomas Nagel, “Concealment and Exposure” at:
Nagel writes more about the social and political effects of constraint versus personal confrontation on matters that are generally private, and Nagel believes in a kind of privacy that protects people who hold unpopular views as a means to smooth wrinkles from the social fabric for the purposes of a “smoothly fitting public surface.” Nagel writes that “it protects one from the sense of exposure without having to be in any way dishonest or deceptive, just as clothing does not conceal the fact that one is naked underneath.”
Such privacy seems to be a requirement in a society that is largely expressing itself in any of the following World Views: Survival, Safety and Security, Outer Success and Relationship Lessons. From these perspectives, there is very much “two,” duality, not one. While truth is more than mere non-duality, this will do for now as a distinction for the purposes of this conversation. Everything seems to come from “outside” – until it doesn’t, about the time we become more inner directed, less blaming, less focused on others to meet our imagined “needs” and “wants.”
Unless society as a whole, is largely more secure and inner-directed, trusting and safe, it seems reasonable (is it?) and natural (oh?) to hold secrets, confidences and privacy. Anything outside of ourselves seems threatening, or at least holds that potential, and society adopts “norms” that “protect.”
It seems more reasonable to me, to question these assumptions, to find out if our attachment to “privacy,” is really only a way to divide and separate us from ourselves and others.
Does the desire for privacy actually spring from insecurity in a world that is truly safe in a bigger picture sense? (Yes, bodies may die, be in pain, be injured – does that actually equate to a lack of safety?)
If you’ve been reading this blog much at all, you know what to do, and you have choices:
Write out a Worksheet. Ask the questions. Do the turn arounds.
Release and Receive
Email me or Comment if you need help.
“One and one don’t make two. One and one make one.”
~ Pete Townshend, The Who