There’s an old Chinese proverb. “One small bit of joy cancels a thousand griefs.”
I heard the following story on NPR last week. A reporter from New York was giving a talk on whether or not the truth is appropriate. When is it healthy to withhold information? When is it wise to keep facts hidden? And does it always serve us well to be forthright about certain information?
The reporter’s grandmother began to cough heavily. They took her to the doctor who gave the grim diagnosis of lung cancer. This caught my attention because I had a lung cancer scare about two years ago. Fortunately, my x-rays were clear.
A few months after the diagnosis, the cough suddenly disappeared. About a year later, the doctor reevaluated her and gave the family more bad news. The tumor was still there and had grown. He gave her about three months to live.
The family decided not to give her the bad news. Instead, they told her that her lungs were clear. Her joy was palpable. Happiness completely eliminated all worry and fear. This was over two years ago. She has not had a recurrence of the symptoms.
The Chinese believe that joy overshadows all grief and can produce healing.
Joy healed the grandmother. Why tell her the truth if her symptoms were gone? Why stress her out with worry when the cough had disappeared? And why cause sadness and dejection?
The battle was won. Happiness triumphed. Her body was healed. The grandmother believed that she was well and healing did indeed take place.
The battle was won.
The war was over.
The cancer lost.
Healing took place.
Sometimes it’s necessary to withhold the truth in order to achieve a positive outcome.
Her grandmother is still alive today.