than mislead you with a lie”

Many years ago, I heard a beautiful ballad on the radio called “Sometimes When We Touch…” and it was that particular line that really struck home with me.

Oh the love stuff was nice, but at the time it kind of made me squirm, a bit too intimate.

And I got the lyrics way wrong!

I heard “Sometimes when we touch the artist sees too much, and I have to close my eyes and hide…”

But it’s actually “Sometimes when we touch, the honesty’s too much…”

And even that line “I’d rather hurt you honestly than mislead you with a lie” I’d heard it: “I’d rather hurt you honestly than treat you with a lie.”

Funny how the meaning changes and yet the sentiment stays the same.

And it’s funny how that mistaken line: “I’d rather hurt you honestly than treat you with a lie.” Became a sort of motto for me.

I internalized it.

It’s my philosophy when dealing with people. And it’s all from a love song.

Who says they’re just silly songs?

Who says they can’t speak the truth and lead you to higher heights of principle?

Of course it helped that the idea jived well with one of the hadiths/sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) where he said, “Speak the truth even if it is bitter and displeasing to people.”

That doesn’t mean that I’ll go about spouting off my opinion, especially if people will find it offensive, but at the same time, if someone asks me an honest question, then don’t they deserve an honest answer???

I think they do.

And that’s when I’d rather hurt them honestly than ‘treat’ them with a lie.

Of course there are gentle ways to say things. Diplomacy. You know…

I think I’ve gotten better at it.

But one thing I haven’t gotten better is wiping the gauche look off my face when I meet someone whose words have really touched me like that.

Tonight I was at a fund-raising program held by the Toronto United Church Council to raise money for unwed mothers.

And on the program was Dan Hill. When the organizer first called me and told me the lineup included Dan Hill, I immediately thought of Sometimes When We Touch, but then thought, “Nah! Couldn’t be.”

Uh huh. It was.

And I got very excited!

(By the way, I know perfectly well I’m doing some shameless name-dropping, but I can’t help it!)

And when he actually showed up, just this quiet, unassuming looking guy, I tried to think of something intelligent to say, some question, some way to engage him in conversation.

I was starting to get nervous. There were stand up comedians on the bill and Dan Hill and a harpist and a saxophone player, and then me.

And I was second to last in the program! After me was the choir singing Winter Wonderland, that was it.

It went wonderfully!

I needn’t have gotten so worried.

I knew how much I tripped over the first few words of the story, but apparently the audience didn’t even notice. At the end of the program some of us sold books and CD’s at the back of the hall, by the way it was in one of those old fashioned churches that had been built in 1914 and was basically a hundred years old with the intricate stained glass windows and a pipe organ that took up the whole wall behind the altar, stretching right up to the ceiling!

I set up right beside Dan Hill and I thought, “Oh boy, it’ll be one of those events where he’ll have the big long line up and I’ll be sitting there by myself looking pathetic, but no, the way they came up to my table with my books for sale…wow!

They really liked the story!

And it was so funny because even during his stint on the stage, Mr. Hill sang a couple of Christmas carols with the harpist, then a beautiful song called “I am My Father’s Son” about a father and son relationship, and then he said how he called his mom everyday and she’d told him, “Don’t sing that song, son, they’re sick of it!” (I’m paraphrasing)

And then he sang it.

And of course we were all waiting for it.

And I wondered to myself, if that’s how people might feel one day about Big Red Lollipop. I’ve told that story SO many times! I call it my no-brainer-crowd-pleaser.

And as the crowd dispersed and Mr. Hill was getting ready to leave, I called out to him about that line that had really influenced me. I tried to tell him how much that line ‘I’d rather hurt you honestly than treat (sic)  you with a lie’ had meant to me, and even as I quoted it, I mumbled the word ‘treat’ because it didn’t sound right and right then I was sure I had gotten it wrong. And sure enough when I checked on line, I had gotten it wrong.

But he graciously didn’t correct me.

And even though I knew I was acting the total fan, I didn’t really care…it was honest.

Here’s him singing it from the original music video: