The organization was needlessly dishonest about a few relatively straightforward things. Then, to make matters worse, when I asked for an explanation, they just shrugged it off. It was no big deal to them. But, for me, honesty is everything, because without honesty, there’s no trust. So, no trust, no job.
They were shocked. So was I.
Anyway, it got me to thinking about truth and lies and honesty, and how they’re generally communicated. Many of the expressions we often say without ever really stopping to think about what they mean, myself included.
One of the more common expressions is “the honest truth”. Since truth is honest by definition, I guess putting the two words together is meant to communicate the sincerest form of truth??? Then there’s “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”. Truth x 3. To me, that expression is a reminder of how difficult it is for us to stay on the “truth and narrow”, so we need to have the importance of honesty triple emphasized whenever it’s especially important that we stick to the truth.
A few of the other expressions about truth sound quite pure… “ring true”, “true blue”, “gospel truth”, “honest to goodness” and “come clean”. But then there’s “cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye”. It doesn’t get more theatrical than that. That was one of my favorite sayings when I was a kid, and I never once stopped to really absorb the literal interpretation until now.
Just thinking about it, I think I’m developing a twitch in my eye.
Then there’s “Pete”. Have you ever stopped to consider how many expressions mention “Pete”? “Honest to Pete”, “for Pete’s sake” and “for the love of Pete” are just a few that readily come to mind. I know I’ve veered slightly off the topic of honesty and lies but this “Pete” guy really has me intrigued.
Ok, back to it.
You can’t talk about honesty and lies without acknowledging the gray area many people operate in. The gray area of half truth. Sometimes referred to as “beating around the bush”. Someone once said, “Beware of the half truth as you may have gotten hold of the wrong half”. Pretty sound advice. A fellow named Georg Christop Lichtenberg went one step further by saying, “The most dangerous untruths are truths moderately distorted.” Makes you think.
So then we come to the infamous lie. Recognize any of these sayings? “Pulling your leg”, “smoke and mirrors”, “monkey business”, or “leading you up the garden path”? They sound relatively harmless. They make lying not sound so bad. But then we move on to a few of the more the painful sayings… “a bitter pill”, “lie through your teeth”, or “liar, liar, pants on fire” (my personal favorite).
“Honesty doesn’t always pay but dishonesty always costs.” Michael Josephson
“A lie has speed but truth has endurance.” Edgar J. Mohn
Judge Judy often says that “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to have a good memory”. That’s not the only benefit.
A commitment to honesty and truth makes you a person of character. People know they can trust you. Plus it’s the right thing to do. These are all reasons that I try to be honest and truthful as possible. I want to be known as someone who can be absolutely trusted. Someone who is a person of character.
But, is there ever too much of a good thing?
I think we’ve all encountered “brutally honest” people, which is just as violent to the psyche as the phrase would suggest. Richard J. Needham describes them best… “People who are brutally honest get more satisfaction out of the brutality than out of the honesty.” Wow… perspective…
The moral of that quote?
Honesty really is the best policy. Just don’t go overboard.