Thursday, October 20, 2011

Survivor 23 (Good vs. Evil) Can you be honest and win Survivor?

As I've written in previous columns, Survivor in years past has been all about lying, cheating, scheming, double crossing others to win. This year, they've turned it on its head by having at least two people (Coach and Russell Hantz's nephew, Brandon) who have vowed to fight this season with integrity, honor and--gasp--honesty.

When I first got sober, I was forced to go from being a pathological liar to living a life free of lies. It was a difficult transition. And I'm sure I was a bit like Brandon has been in the last few episodes: brash, obnoxious, braying his honesty to everyone who'll listen, expecting everyone to conform to his rules.

There is a point to that. You know that honesty trumps everything. You also know that honesty is the only way to live, because all you really have is your own integrity.

But to bring that into the game of Survivor? It's madness.

Madness, yes, but also quite compelling TV. And mind you, the honesty thing isn't easy. Especially if you're somewhat new to it. I think it took me several years to even realize what was a lie, and that I really could live without telling one, in fact was MUCH better off without telling one. I had never conceived of such a thing.

And here is Brandon Hantz, now in our faces on our TV screens, compelling us to contemplate the question. Yes, it's true is it a "game," but isn't it also true that even while playing games we still have our own consciences to deal with? Especially when we are dealing with other people and their feelings? And is it just a microcosm of life that really no one can deal with the "honest guy"? He's so pure, he's so out there, I just love him.

Because thrown into this mix, we also have Coach. Now Coach is determined, this time, to not let his worst self get the better of him. He wants to live through this game with integrity and honor, and so far, he has.

But here's the thing Brandon has yet to realize. You really can only be 100% honest when you are in a place that's safe, with people you trust. There are fine-tunings of the honesty thing that one must really incorporate when dealing with/living with/interacting with others who are not quite so honest. The most important among them being tact.

You can't just go yelling from rooftops (although I did that very thing too): "Look at me! I'm HONEST!!! Isn't it grand?" You really run the risk of alienating others, and/or having them think you're crazy.

So I believe that discretion and tact comes with age. Yes, to answer Coach's question: Withholding IS lying. Yes, it is.

HOWEVER, sometimes, it's necessary.

In the case of Coach, he's the leader of the tribe. He's played Survivor three times now. He sees the big picture in many ways that others don't. And the way I see it, he's like Brandon's dad on this island: saving him from hurting himself, even though Brandon himself might not see it that way right now (cause he's too close).

In this last episode, Coach made it clear that he has the immunity idol, and the two people whom he wants to know about it, do. One of those is not Brandon. Brandon has the habit of spouting off EVERYTHING that's on his mind, and one thing even beginning Survivor watchers know is that you hold back some things, and play your cards when it's to your advantage. That's really all you have: the element of surprise.

Will/would Brandon be pissed to know that he looked all over the island for the idol, when it rested safely with Coach? Yes. Will he be mad that Coach wasn't honest with him? Yes. Will he have gotten MUCH farther in the game (not only he, but Coach and other members of their alliance) because Coach said nothing? YES. That's the key point.

When you are playing a game, or steering a ship, or running a corporation, you have to let someone else drive. Whoever is the leader/in charge, takes the responsibility for those under him/her and makes decisions accordingly, piecing out the information as necessary. BECAUSE he/she sees the big picture.

And hopefully, those worker bees under him/her trust enough to know they're being taken care of. And Coach IS taking care of Brandon, whether he realizes it or not. One of those, yes, I know you just learned how to shoot, but trust me, put the gun down, kind of situations.

So, it's a tough call, but I honestly believe that both Brandon and Coach are living their truth. Both of them are living honorably. One is withholding, but it's for the good of the tribe.

It's really going to be interesting once it gets down to Coach vs. Brandon at some point. How long can Coach live with integrity? I'm quite sure that both Coach and Brandon will make it at least to the merge (when they are down to 10).

And then, they have evil to deal with on the other side (in the form of Jim, who's an underhanded, low-dealing, backstabbing liar). I'm also quite sure he'll be there when they get theere. Should be very interesting.

I put my money on Coach. To win it.


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