Thursday, March 06, 2014

The One Mandate

The One Mandate


To make it plainly stated and to the point, I will not lie.

I will not lie, period.

As a child, I was raised to be seen but not heard. But in this space, I will not lie about my existence. I exist here. I am flesh and blood, bone and marrow, heart and mind. I have a voice, and should you strain to hear it whisper, or wince at enduring its shouts, so be it. Whenever I pick up a pen or open a new window, I am poised to scatter myself into the atmosphere with the reckless abandon of someone who wants their Truth to be seen, heard, and felt.

As a young adult, I was taught to say only things my elders wanted to hear; to intuitively recognize their needs before they spoke, and to dutifully provide them. But here, I will not lie to make you feel better about yourself, I will not lie to make you feel better about me, and I will not lie to make me feel better about myself. I will breathe my Truth into the lines you read; the good, bad, ugly and even worse, sharpening and distilling to make an even more potent elixir – or if the mood suits me – a more effective poison.

In the corporate world, I was taught to couch unpalatable news behind safe corporate speak; to tell demanding clients that “Yes! We have no bananas!” But here, I will not lie, risking the compromise of my artistic integrity. I will not cower in the corner, shuttering away my very essence in fear that someone may read my Truth, become offended, and deny me the opportunity to give them part of my soul that I’ll never get back – or worse – that they never deserved in the first place.

It is a dirty little secret that everyone must answer to someone. Children to their parents, parents to each other, employees to managers, managers to directors, CEO’s to stockholders, public servants to the people, farmers to the will of the land. But here, I have decided to answer only to myself, and only to this one mandate. I find that this commitment is the highest form of creative liberation, and I am replenished with each renewal.

Maybe my Truth will one day help me earn a comfortable lifestyle, and maybe it won’t earn a single red cent. Perhaps my Truth will evolve, rising to the heavens to mingle with the words of widely regarded laureates, or maybe it is destined to be eternally arrested here like a primate reaching for the moon, but only getting so far as the highest branches. None of this matters because I can look back on each line written and know for a fact that I exist, and that this is my Truth.

And so I say to anyone who will listen; I will not lie.


My friends over at dVerse poets challenged me to write my own personal manifesto. This is what I came up with. Feel free to try it for yourself, or you can go read the wonderful manifestos of other highly talented poets.


  1. i tell you keep speaking the truth and it will attract people, because we need more truth in a time of plasticity & illusion...i came up through the same corporate world, heck i used to train people how to---lies eventually erode our foundation and it all comes tumbling down...the truth is uncomfortable at times, but i'd rather deal with it up front that wait for it all to fall...

  2. I'm all about the truth, even when it's tough to hear. So much of this resonated with me. Great write.

  3. Wow. Good stuff, right stuff here. I believe I grew up in a family of secrets (which I construe as lies). Most were never revealed. I am the last one now, I've sorted out a few many will lie hidden. But for me, I have chosen honesty, truth and transparency. From the beginning I guess I took it as my essence not to lie. I've been fired and I've walked away from jobs which wanted me to do so. I did not shield my children from the truth and now it's so much a part of who I am, I didn't even think to mention it here. I do live in a glass house but I try very very hard not only not to throw stones..I try not to do anything that would hurt anyone. I respect you for this and want to say it's a beautifully written manifesto.

  4. You are more than right.. lying is not the narrow road but the grease of society... but does it have to be... I think we are on the same wavelength a lot here Barry.. wonderful voice of reason... thank you so much for sharing.

  5. yes.. it's good to speak the truth... over the years, i have learned to speak the truth in love ... i was very rebellious as a teen and slapped everyone who wanted to hear it or not My truth in their face...ha.. but still better than lying me thinks...smiles...

  6. Wow. You have written a beautiful and powerful personal manifesto. The writing is excellent and the message is brave. Always such a pleasure to read your work.

    1. Thank you, Heidi.

      I stalk your blog, just so you know. Eager to read more from you!

  7. Thank you to all who commented. Full disclosure: I'm not vying for sainthood here. I still gravitate to scoundrel ways in real life. I'm just vowing never to lie to in my prose, however it is shaped.

    (Also, my version of a scoundrel is too lazy to lie. Too many moving parts to keep track of.)

  8. I think good poetry starts with honesty. I wish our lives were surrounded by it.

  9. Truth should be the manifesto for all writers...yours is a righteous manifesto...maybe the most difficult to live up to.

  10. Ha... too lazy to lie I like:)

    I don't care what you write . I'm a fan. Like your humour
    "yes we have no bananas" LOL

    It is up to the reader to discern what is truth or not. Some cultures don't have an appreciation of irony so this can often lead to misunderstanding and misinterpretation.

    I would like to think experienced readers can detect sham. Honesty from the heart sings on the page.

  11. hopefully this weekend you have time to read and touch on some of those that commented on you....