Thursday, February 16, 2006

On Tears

If I go a week without someone crying in front of me, I must be on vacation. Tears are my definition of normal. Earlier this week, someone barely teared up in my presence and confused me with a profuse apology. "Why on earth are you sorry?" I wondered, but this led me to two questions: 1) Why in front of me? and 2) Why not in front of others?

Obviously, people have different reasons, but I think some of the most common answers to #1 include: I am in a trusted profession, a profession many turn to in times of personal turmoil; and anyone who knows me, knows I will not judge them for crying. The possible answers to #2 are what trouble me.

From the derisive remarks I have heard, it appears that many see tears as signs of weakness, illness, selfishness, or helplessness. Funny. I always thought angry outbursts and violence were those signs. Evidently I am in a minority on this topic. Men in particular can be incredibly judgmental on the topic of crying, while women can be wildly defensive. What a shame.

How can we ever know or trust one another, if we can't mutually express our natural emotions? In fact, forget others. How can we know ourselves if we are forever editing our responses? Tears often tell the truth better than any other form of expression. Sure, there will always be those who are lying through their tears, but most people do that with their smiles. It's a lot harder to fake a tear than a smile.

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