What would happen if every secret were disclosed and all the skeletons in your closet tumbled out?
A trip to Yale's ivy league campus last summer brought me to the steps of the Skull and Bones Society, incubator for some of our nation's top leaders and venue to speculative perversions and draconian lore.
Not surprisingly, the building was bolted.
In a moment of reflection, I asked my husband to film me in front of the edifice also known as the "Tomb".
I've never attended Yale, never entered the Tomb and can't say I know any Skull and Bones members personally. But I seized the opportunity to wonder what society would do if everyone's life were suddenly "outed".
What if locks fell off doors, secret documents went public and the full contents of our lives were suddenly opened to the light? Once exposed for our dubious behaviors and formerly shrouded secrets, would we parade so proudly, criticize so harshly or pontificate so arrogantly?
I doubt it.
With our every hidden sin made public, we'd all view the world through a different lens. We'd be wiser, more careful and perhaps more socially evolved. Before finding fault with others' dirty laundry, we'd start washing some of our own.
The Pains of Disclosure
Years ago, I made an unkind remark to a friend, criticizing a local pastor and his staff member whose private deeds were at odds with their Sunday professions. The words I spouted were true, but the spirit in which I delivered them were hardly generous.
Playing judge and jury, I was offended by my own attitude and embarrassed for "outing" myself as a fault-finding, finger pointer.
A home schooling parent with a growing daughter who needed less of my attention, I was growing antsy in life. The void formed from having too much free time was causing me to become judgmental, even unattractive.
My friend said nothing about my remark but I chastised myself, realizing how small I'd suddenly become. What moral authority did I presume to have in criticizing someone else when my own life had descended into spouting this negative barb?
A lack of purposeful pursuits was turning me into a crusty critic. One of several midlife moments, it catalyzed me off my proverbial duff and back into the marketplace of ideas. I was happier engaging as a positive voice than contributing to societal ills as a critic.
Spectrums of Secrets and Scores of Skeletons
In moments of weakness, we can all fall prey to weaknesses in the human condition.
The spectrum of our secrets starts with the slightest shades of gray and spans into the deepest caverns of black. Some unfortunates are born into darkness while others are lured, trapped or otherwise coerced. Several grow addicted to lustful powers while a few love stoking the fires, craving the thrills of insanities that harm their fellow man.
Secrets and skeletons are hardly limited to the powerful or entitled class. But they form barriers to human advancement and work as inhibitors of a safe, healthy and robust society.
That day on Yale's campus, I was reminded again that the deeds and maneuverings we've stored behind lock and key are hardly safe or secure.
Our brave new world is now a digitized wild west, vulnerable to imminent reveals and unprecedented exposures. Today, every hidden thought and shielded behavior plays perilously close to the edge of public denuding and disgraceful disclosure.
For a healthier, happier and self-governed society, we'd be wise to first mind the skeletons in our own closets before fingering the old bones of our neighbors.
Wherever we are and whatever title, position or public persona we profess, may we all find that our hidden places and open spaces find happiness and equilibrium when exposed to the light of day.
May the following video filmed in front of the Skull and Bones Society inspire the better, brighter and more luminescent you.
Maura Sweeney is an International Speaker on Influence, Leadership and Emotional Intelligence
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