Today, while looking at my blog statistics, I came upon a Google document from a reputation consultant for Domo, who shared a link of my review of the rap concert at Domopalooza  with the following comments: “This comes up ranking on the 2nd page for the term “Domopalooza” and it talked about the Domopalooza party with people getting drunk, women in skimpy attire, etc. Not sure if it is of concern to Domo but it was noteworthy.” I find it striking, and given my continual concern with the related issues of honor and reputation, highly ironic, that my own writing should come up as a noteworthy item of concern for the online reputation of someone else, and of a company that I happen to like. To be sure, I wrote a lot about Domopalooza that didn’t reference the drinking , but given that the fellow in charge of Domo, a Mormon fellow named Josh James, said from the stage (perhaps jokingly) at Domopalooza that he had asked his lesbian friends for permission to use palooza because it meant party, surely it was entirely appropriate for me to report, in my typically dry and witty way, the truth about an event in which I managed to keep sober and observant, but where plenty of other people used the open bars and rap concert as a convenient place to act the fool, as Ludacris would sing. Is not an eyewitness, one with intense curiosity, a fair amount of native shyness and restraint, but no particular axes to grind, to faithfully convey what is witnessed to others? Is that not a big part of the reason why I write in the first place, to be a witness of my observations and experiences, of my thoughts and feelings, to those who care about such matters?
How is it that we determine the truth? More specifically, how do we present ourselves in a way that is both honest as well as putting our best face forward, and how do we properly recognize the truth about others, including correcting our own misinterpretations and misunderstandings about them. I would like to deal with the first issue only briefly before moving on to the second, which I find to be more important. After all, in our image-sensitive age, we are used to the massive gap between our self-presentation in different arenas, largely because what are true aspects of our character and personality are simply unacceptable to discuss openly in certain places. Most obviously, if we are people of faith, we may be constrained by legal and cultural restrictions from being particularly outspoken about our religious beliefs, especially insofar as they deal with personal behavior, because such statements may be viewed as immensely hateful, even where they are not. Likewise, we may possess delicate and sensitive consciences but also be aware of areas in our own lives where our beliefs are noble and where our practice is imperfect, and we may struggle to live up to our own ideals and our own standards, which hopefully makes us more merciful to others when we find that they too struggle with the same gap between where they are and where they want to be. After all, no mercy will be shown to those who show no mercy, and by the same standard we judge, we also will be judged.
It is of greater and more profound interest to me how it is that people change their opinion or thoughts about other people. In general, it is our greater familiarity with people that gives us a good opinion of others. This phenomenon has several complicated but interrelated causes. For one, being around someone enough to understand who they are and what they are about helps us to feel better about them simply out of our understanding. At other times, the habits that once may have bothered us become less offensive, unless there is a continued sense of building outrage , as we become more and more used to them. On another level there is the matter of cognitive dissonance, by which our innate desire to justify our actions lead us to revise beliefs in order to correspond with actions. In many cases, this can be a bad thing, yet in some ways it can be quite useful to us. If we want people to think well of us, often what is necessary is to encourage them to act well towards us, and that will often be sufficient to lead them to thinking and feeling well of us, assuming we do not continually irritate and offend and provoke them. If, of course, we are offensive and irritating people, we have no one to blame but ourselves for provoking even those who treat us nicely out of the kindness of their hearts.
However this is done, there is a fundamental problem we have to wrestle with, and that is that our perception of truth (or “our truth” as it is often labeled in the postmodernist discourse) does not necessarily bear any relationship with the objective truth that exists. Sometimes our perception of objective truth is hindered by the deceptive acts of others. More often, though, our lack of ability to recognize the truth and respond to it is due to our own substantial resources in self-deception. To the extent that we desire to communicate the truth about ourselves to others, and to understand the truth about others, we are faced with the task of seeking to make it as easy as possible for others to get to know us, to spend time with us, to see how we really are, and also devoting a fair amount of attention to decoding the communications we are getting from others, and keeping an open enough mind that we are neither taken in by people who put on a good front but who lack depth in goodness, and neither do we too soon cast aside those who have rougher edges or stronger sensitivities but whose decency and goodness, wit and intelligence are worth taking the time to get to know. Let us never lose sight of where our responsibility lies in judging fairly, loving mercy, and showing kindness as much as possible to all who cross our paths, for one never knows at which point one will be called upon as a witness of what one has seen, in times where it may not be easy to get to the truth of the issues of our existence.
I would like to end where I began. Yesterday evening I wrote a blog entry  that discussed my rather busy plans to serve in various musical service during the upcoming Feast of Tabernacles in Steamboat Springs, God willing. The post itself gathered a lot of views, and only one comment (so far). Presumably, my readers, even those who do not wish to respond to me, consider me a reliable source of information about my business. After all, I would assume that the very fact that my writing about what I am doing at the Feast of Tabernacles, or in other cases, draws the interest of readers suggests at least curiosity, but also trust, that what I am writing is true to the greatest degree possible. Yet without communication, I tend to feel alarmed by a flurry of views, because interest without communication gives me a great deal of distress about the nature of the viewing, and the reasons for the absence in communication, asking about areas that are unclear, voicing one’s own thoughts and feelings and concerns, and so on. In the absence of communication and firm knowledge, knowledge that can only be gained in the context of discussion, one only has one’s own anxieties to fill in the spaces. And as someone who feels anxiety easily and profoundly, and who strongly dislikes others to feel it about me, I wish frequent and open and kind communication was a larger part of my life than often appears to be the case. Overall, it is nice to know that one is read, but ultimately, my writing is only half of a conversation, and I have no interest in writing merely endless monologues.
 See, for example:
 See, for example: