Braving the Wilderness: Speak Truth to Bullshit. Be Civil

  • February 15 2018

The dangerous dismissal of truth in favor of emotional appeal is on the rise. Here’s how to stand up, speak truth, and keep your cool when you do.

This is Part III in the series on Brene Brown’s book Braving the Wilderness

Bullshit is Dangerous

This was a difficult post to write, because the problem is so near and pressing, and the solution so challenging and uncertain.

First, Brene breaks down the difference between lying and bullshitting. Lying is taking a position in opposition to the truth, but fundamentally acknowledging the facts and reality surrounding an issue.

Bullshit is the wholesale dismissal of the truth. It is what we keep seeing in our political and social landscape, and it is dangerous.

Why do we give in and practice bullshit? Everyone now has a microphone, and we are encouraged to use it. We are more connected than ever through social media, and there is the expectation that we have to hold a position on every issue. Whether we are informed or not. Bullshit is a trap we fall into when we don’t know what we’re talking about. We make something up which fits how we feel instead of how things are.

Certainty is Comfortable

Certainty provides us comfort in our increasingly uncertain world. It gives us a sense of control. We don’t have to go through the vulnerable and uncertain process of admitting we are ignorant, which is the only way to start getting curious about an issue.

We also know that in our interconnected world that there is some tribe, somewhere, that will support our position. We are empowered to reject anything. There is a community of people who, in 2018, believe the earth is flat. They won’t accept any science as rebuttal, instead choosing to burrow deeper into a demonstrably false conspiracy theory.

These situations are dangerous because they lead some people to believe that there is no objective truth. It’s too difficult to get to the facts through all the bullshit, so instead some just give up. This becomes an urgent threat to our way of life and the concept of enlightenment, which requires objective inquiry to provide us benefits from science, technology, and sound governance.

With Us or Against Us

Often issues will be painted in Us vs. Them terms. Brene notes that both George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton used this language when making a case for the war in Iraq. “You’re either with us or against us (or with the enemy)” is an emotion-based appeal, which makes it difficult to counter.

When anyone uses this language, it should set off alarm bells. In this situation we have to refuse to take sides and instead challenge the framing of the debate. We must gather our courage and state that we disagree, but that doesn’t make us the enemy. In order to be true to yourself, to let your authentic humanity shine through, we have to call “bullshit” on being told we must conform to a singular position or be banished from the tribe.

This may be one of the most challenging positions we take. We are being threatened with belonging. Brene argues, however, that it’s a cheap trick to get us to fit in. Once we acknowledge that our true belonging comes from within, and that we have the right to be ourselves, we can challenge such arguments.

Effectively Countering Bullshit

Since the 2016 election, Americans have been defaulting to an “If you don’t agree, you have no place here” mentality. This not only stifles productive debate and discussion, but avoids doing the hard work of sitting with pain and discomfort to look for better solutions and common ground. We all have to live together. We need to start treating our friends, neighbors and family members better.

We can begin to counter bullshit by creating a safer environment for the discussion to take place. This requires being generous. Usually bullshit comes from a place of fear, ignorance and uncertainty, not ill intent. If we extend generosity around the discussion by indicating that we aren’t trying to pass judgment or win an argument, people will feel safer in expressing their true feelings and thoughts.

It is important to speak truth, but we must do so with civility. I have family members who voted for Trump. Instead of berating them or cutting them off, I got really curious about why they voted that way. I stayed in a mindset of “I love you, our vision is similar, but how we think we should get there is different.” Stay in your integrity. Be firm but respectful. Thank the other person for being willing to have a conversation with you. This opens the door to future discussions, and makes them more receptive to your point of view.

The High Cost of Bullshit

When we embrace or accept bullshit in order to “fit in”, we lose our integrity. This is more than just taking the high road. Our integrity, staying true to our values, is our font of self-respect and self-love. When we choose bullshit over truth we betray our deeper selves. If we no longer act with integrity and accordance with our values, we will begin to feeling loathing toward ourselves. We will think that our innermost self is weak and false. This self-loathing will unravel our capacity to be vulnerable.

This is not an easy path to walk. We are surrounded by an overwhelming amount of bullshit on a daily basis. But to save ourselves, the only option is truth and generosity of spirit to foster civility. We may lose people along the way but this choice leads to a life of integrity and self-worth. We must gather our courage to shape ourselves and our world into one which values truth. We need it now more than ever.

Being civil and speaking truth is critical. But our most pressing human need is connection. We discuss the importance of showing up in the next post:

Part IV: Hold Hands. With Strangers coming soon

Read the entire Braving the Wilderness series:

Braving the Wilderness: Introduction

Part I: The Quest for True Belonging

Part II: People are Hard to Hate Close Up: Move In

Part V: Strong Back. Soft Front. Wild Heart coming soon

  1. Pingback: generic cialis

  2. Pingback: cialis over counter walmart

  3. Pingback: daily use of cialis

  4. Pingback: buy cialis online cheap

  5. Pingback: costa rica cialis sale

  6. Pingback: buy sildenafil

  7. Pingback: viagra tumblr

  8. Pingback: canadian pharmacy reviews

  9. Pingback: medicare covers cialis

  10. Pingback: amoxicillin cost australia

  11. Pingback: where can i buy zithromax in canada

  12. Pingback: viagra cost per pill

  13. Pingback: viagrawithouatdoctor viagra

  14. Pingback: can i take 40mg of cialis

  15. Pingback: walmart viagra

  16. Pingback: viagra 100 mg

  17. Pingback: where to buy zyrtec in canada

  18. Pingback: buy tadalafil

  19. Pingback: allegra cream where to buy

  20. Pingback: using viagra

  21. Pingback: viagra for men over 60

  22. Pingback: can you buy zithromax over the counter in australia

  23. Pingback: how cialis works

  24. Pingback: how to buy zithromax online

  25. Pingback: otc viagra

  26. Pingback: viagra

  27. Pingback: celexa and flonase deadly

  28. Pingback: celebrex prices

  29. Pingback: generic viagra online

  30. Pingback: side effects for carvedilol

  31. Pingback: meaning of word buspar

  32. Pingback: buspar hair loss

  33. Pingback: canadian pharmacies shipping to usa

  34. Pingback: viagra

  35. Pingback: wellbutrin uses

  36. Pingback: does baclofen get you high

  37. Pingback: canadian online pharmacies

  38. Pingback: herbals

  39. Pingback: will baclofen help migraine pain

  40. Pingback: erectile dysfunction

  41. Pingback: Plaquenil

  42. Pingback: the pharmacy

  43. Pingback: azithromycin tripack

  44. Pingback: prescription drug cost

  45. Pingback: atorvastatin tia

  46. Pingback: brand cialis

  47. Pingback: erectile dysfunction pills

  48. Pingback: aripiprazole show up on a drug test

  49. Pingback: can amoxicillin make you gain weight

  50. Pingback: lipitor and norvasc

  51. Pingback: viagra for sale

  52. Pingback: amitriptyline cost

  53. Pingback: generic viagra 100mg

  54. Pingback: amiodarone hliver histology

  55. Pingback: zithromax capsules australia

  56. Pingback: allopurinol 300 mg cost

  57. Pingback: abilify maintaina

  58. Pingback: canadian pharmacy cialis

  59. Pingback: max dose of tizanidine

  60. Pingback: generic viagra walmart

  61. Pingback: viagra no prescription

  62. Pingback: generic viagra online for sale

  63. Pingback: viagra prank

  64. Pingback: oxytrol patches coupon

  65. Pingback: what does ciprofloxacin 500mg treat

  66. Pingback: cialis buy online

  67. Pingback: viagra online

  68. Pingback: how long does it take for cialis to work

  69. Pingback: cialis 5mg

  70. Pingback: cephalexin an pennicilan

  71. Pingback: order cialis online canada

  72. Pingback: too much viagra

  73. Pingback: is ed reversible

  74. Pingback: pfizer viagra coupons

  75. Pingback: essay revision service

  76. Pingback: vardenafil dosage

  77. Pingback: augmentin dosage for uti

  78. Pingback: buy Prednisone

  79. Pingback: viagra instructions

  80. Pingback: pills for ed

  81. Pingback: viagra amazon

  82. Pingback: viagra or cialis

  83. Pingback: price of viagra

  84. Pingback: custom essay writing toronto

  85. Pingback: cialis euros

  86. Pingback: cialis

  87. Pingback: i need help writing an essay for college

  88. Pingback: viagra on line

  89. Pingback: liquid cialis

  90. Pingback: better than viagra

  91. Pingback: cost of cialis

  92. Pingback: ae atorvastatin

  93. Pingback: buy levitra online in usa

  94. Pingback: marley drug viagra

  95. Pingback: roman viagra

  96. Pingback: viagra brand name online

  97. Pingback: how to use viagra

  98. Pingback: sildenafil 100mg cost

  99. Pingback: viagra 100 mg price

  100. Pingback: sildenafil generic

  101. Pingback: viagra pill for women

  102. Pingback: instant online payday loans

  103. Pingback: marley generics cialis

  104. Pingback: loviagraosn viagra

  105. Pingback: viagra 6 free sample

  106. Pingback: vietnamese viagra

  107. Pingback: tadalafil

  108. Pingback: is viagra safe

  109. Pingback: amoxicillin without rx

  110. Pingback: levitra online

  111. Pingback: no prescription cialis

  112. Pingback: cialis lowest price

  113. Pingback: buy viagra online cheap

  114. Pingback: au cialis

  115. Pingback: generic cialis for sale

  116. Pingback: ED Pills

  117. Pingback: canadian pharmacy viagra

  118. Pingback: canadian online drugstore

  119. Pingback: buy cheap viagra

  120. Pingback: cialis

  121. Pingback: buy cheap viagra

  122. Pingback: cialis

  123. Pingback: viagra achat en france

  124. Pingback: canadian pharmacy storm

  125. Pingback: generic drugs

  126. Pingback: buy sildenafil

  127. Pingback: generic cialis

  128. Pingback: sildenafil

  129. Pingback: cheap sildenafil

  130. Pingback: buy cheap viagra

  131. Pingback: viagra generic

  132. Pingback: cialis pills

  133. Pingback: viagra pills

  134. Pingback: cialis online

  135. Pingback: viagra online

  136. Pingback: viagra

  137. Pingback: cialis

  138. Pingback: buy cialis

  139. Pingback: Woke Up!

Leave a Comment


Become a better citizen today! You’ll be the first to get tips, guides to activism, and collaborative features that connect you with passionate folks in your local area.


Making Change

Learn how to become an effective activist by Converting, Collaborating and…

Stop Staying Small

How to avoid the asshole trap and become the visionary…

Braving the Wilderness: Introduction

Our politics and culture seem hopelessly divided and toxic. Researcher…

Welcome to WokeUp!

What is this blog for? Where do I start? Our…