The Nature of Secrets and the Taboo
Bringing secrets and the taboo “out of the dark and into the light” by practicing transparency and openness rather than repression, takes away their power.
Sure, other effects occur like the less fun effect of normalizing (social normalization), but that is another essay. At the core, things have more power when they are hidden in Victorian fashion, as one can’t confront or understand what is hidden behind a wall of social and political taboo.
Things have the most power over us when they go unspoken, the tension builds and eats away at us, coloring our actions, eating our head space, and in some instances causing us shame.
Things fester in the dark, growing, spiraling out of control, manifesting as fetishes and quirks, burying itself in our neurology, making dealing with it more and more difficult.
But when things are said aloud and are confronted, they lose power.
This is the basic logic behind therapy.
Humans are social beings; we aren’t meant to shoulder the burden alone like Atlas.
This isn’t a call to throw all censorship to the wind and speak freely in all cases, that is foolish.
It is, however, a call to find at least one person with whom you can share each of the ideas you keep to yourself. Perhaps you want to find one person per idea or all ideas with one person. It is both rude and risky to lay your burden on a single person at a single time.
On an individual level, it is about finding a friend, therapist, priest, or lawyer to confide in. On a group level, sharing in an anonymous group works. On a national level, it might be a matter of engaging in more honest and transparent debate.
Let us be clear; you should never waive your Miranda rights or take thoughtless actions that you know will lead to trouble. Instead, this is about good sense, good taste, and guiding principles.
One should seek transparency and openness, as it is healthy to be open. And one should avoid repressing the taboo in a Victorian fashion, as it is healthier not to repress things.
Within the bounds of reason and decency, we should seek to “bring that which festers in the dark out into the light, so it loses its control over us, as individuals, groups, a nation, and the world.”
When you say something aloud to at least one person, It eases your burden.
When things are said aloud, they become less powerful. When things are too loud, the noise can become deafening.
When you are honest and open with others and are transparent, you gain trust.
When you put only your best foot forward and hide your shade in the dark, you are subject to blackmail (metaphorically, internally, or literally) by others if you slip up.
The Buddhists have a saying that goes something like this, “you can drag things with you that don’t belong into the next cycle; it is uncomfortable, and you’ll feel a nagging until you finally let go.”
Just as you can’t magically make your crush from high school fall in love with you and be with you forever, you can’t drag your secrets into the next cycle of your life without constant turmoil.
The above applies to all individuals and groups, in all settings. However, this should be done with taste.
People are criticized and mocked for oversharing all the time; don’t be foolish. But, also, don’t become enslaved to blackmail or taboo by letting a dark secret hold power over you. Figure out a way to drag it into the light and watch it melt away like the Wicked Witch. Sometimes “melt away” means “take the wind out of the sails of a friendship that was based on a lopsided attraction but a mutual need for admiration and connection.” Be warned that melting a witch isn’t always pretty, but if you can, seek true openness and honesty, you will end up easing your burden, and that is the key to a happy and light existence.