The Truth about Honesty

Honesty Rules

So, what are your thoughts on honesty? Do you fib? Often? Do you have honesty rules? If so, where did those rules come from? Experience? Parents? Church? Your inner voice? Do you think that sometimes dishonesty is the right thing? The best option in some situations? Could there be a time when dishonesty is the best policy? We all know that honesty can be painful. And unpopular. It can also be liberating. And rewarding. We know it will end some relationships. And repair others. Sometimes, it shuts doors. And sometimes, it opens them. Some people want to hear the truth. Some don’t. Some say they do, but don’t really.

Lying About Lying

Like it or not, want it or not, lying is an ever-present reality of the world we live in. Kids do it. And grown-ups. Governments do it to protect you and me. Apparently. Or maybe they do it to protect themselves? Businesses do it. Wives do it. And husbands. Bosses. Staff too. Managers. Leaders. And even those who stand in front of their congregations on the weekend do it. Not surprisingly, we usually lie about our lying too. And when we do get busted, we inform the Honesty Police that our moral misdemeanor was in fact a ‘white lie’; a well-meaning deception. And, as we all know, white lies are okay.

Mum said.

Degrees of Honesty?

Some people talk about the notion of ‘complete’ honesty, but is there any other kind? Surely, if it’s not complete honesty, then it’s dishonesty? If it ain’t true, then it’s a lie. Isn’t it? There’s no such thing as ‘telling a bit of a lie’ is there? A ‘half-truth’ (a term we use often) is simply a euphemism for dishonesty, isn’t it? And I guess ‘bending the truth’ sounds more honorable than ‘lying my arse off’. And finally, let’s not forget the very manly art of exaggeration; one of the more socially acceptable forms of lying.

Wow, it’s hard to be honest about our dishonesty isn’t it? After all, nobody wants to wear the ‘liar’ label. We tend to get a little self-righteous and defensive when it comes to our ‘bending of the truth’ don’t we? Someone recently said to me, “oh yes Craig, but there’s lying and there’s lying.” The implication being that there’s acceptable and unacceptable lying. Interesting. Selfless and selfish lying, perhaps? Okay, who decides which is which? The same person told me that she only lies when “she has to” and that “sometimes lying is the kind thing to do”. Can’t say that I totally disagree with her.

So many great questions. But are there any universal answers?

Am Not, You Are

When questioned, most of us say we’re honest people. It’s what we do. It’s our default setting. But it’s not true; most of us lie regularly. Of course, we might lie for ‘noble’ reasons. Like to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. Or to avoid sharing some personal information. Or to avoid a pointless argument or a potentially volatile situation. But surely that kind of dishonesty is okay? Wouldn’t honesty be an illogical choice in some situations? Which would make the occasional fib totally acceptable when there’s a good reason. Wouldn’t it? Having said that, who decides what a ‘good’ reason is?

Hmm… more questions.

One study revealed that the average person lies three times in a typical ten minute conversation. Notice I didn’t say “the average pathological liar lies three times”. No, I said “the average person”! Clearly, you and I are not average.

I lie much more.

Right, I’m off to do some yoga, eat some tofu and run thirty-five miles.

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