What’s the connection between three dead dogs, Bruce Springsteen and a Coconut?

Peter Foy explores the difficult concepts of truth and reality

By Peter Foy

Bruce Springsteen is a titan of the rock and roll world. He is “The Boss”, devoid of flim-flam and self-importance. He’s the prophet of blue-collar America, renowned for his ability to speak – or, more often, sing – truth to power.

    "...Standing before you is a man who has become wildly and absurdly successful writing about something of which he had absolutely no experience..."  

Only he’s not.

Listen to the recording, “Springsteen on Broadway” and you’ll hear these words:

“… I’ve never held an honest job in my entire life … never worked nine-to-five … I’ve never seen the inside of a factory and yet it’s all I’ve ever written about. Standing before you is a man who has become wildly and absurdly successful writing about something of which he had absolutely no experience. I made it all up.”

He made it all up.

In my home I have a painting. It was a gift to my wife, given long before I met her. The picture depicts three dogs: two Dalmatians and a black Labrador. They are painted, beautifully, with one of the Dalmatians lounging on a George Nelson Coconut chair and his two friends reposed in front. All three are long since dead so we, affectionately, call it the “Dead Dogs Picture”.

I never knew any of those dogs, but I do know that while Mrs Foy loves her animals she never allows them on furniture – certainly not a George Nelson chair! The artist didn’t know those dogs either. She painted the portrait from photos sent to her by a third party.

She made it all up.

The question is: do we believe that Springsteen’s canon or the Dead Dogs Picture picture are deliberately misleading? Of course not. Truth and reality are different things. Closely related, but different.

A story is true if it has ethical integrity.

Ethical integrity comes from a deep-rooted set of values that define right and wrong. A set of values that are accepted by everyone involved in that truth.

I go to my office each day (currently in my own home), knowing that Just Recruitment Group Ltd has a deep-rooted set of values, truths. I know that we might occasionally violate those rules, which is why we have a policy to encourage folk to “Speak Out”. The important thing is that we have the rules. And we believe in them.

    In every conversation I have with a client, candidate or colleague I know that I will be held to account to an ethical standard, a Truth.  

In every conversation I have with a client, candidate or colleague I know that I will be held to account to an ethical standard, a Truth.

So much is happening in the world today, be it in the business or political sphere, where Truth is important. Our understanding of truth is being tested to the limit. As business leaders and citizens we need to hold true to our values, those deep-rooted beliefs about right and wrong that define us. It might make us unpopular, but it will keep us honest.

Truths are not facts. The dead dogs were never in that pose, but they were loved. Bruce Springsteen never worked in a factory but “Promised Land” is still a brilliant anthem for the working class.

By the by, if you do dip into “Springsteen on Broadway”, his tribute to the Big Man, Clarence, is heartfelt and moving. Clearly truthful but maybe not factual.

Published: 8 April 2020

© 2020 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

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