Saturday, January 31, 2015


Honesty, Internet Domain

In my later years I’ve found (like most grown children) that our parents were much wiser than we thought when we were growing up. The wisdom we have since learned came mostly in the school of hard knocks with my parents’ words echoing in the background. We parents try to shield children and younger adults from the slings and arrows of the world by sharing our wisdom, but unfortunately it’s generally learned the same way they learned it. But not always and it’s been written that we don’t have enough time in a lifetime to learn it all, so it is wise to reference wisdom books like Proverbs and mentor with wise people to save us a lot of grief—if we’re willing and have the incentive to do so.

The book of Proverbs was primarily written by King Solomon who was quite probably the richest and wisest man that ever lived. Solomon wrote and compiled these wise sayings early in his reign to share his experience and to help us live good lives. His proverbs on honesty are spot on and show that a man who tries his best to be honest in his interactions with others will ultimately score one of the most precious things in life that is hard won and easily lost—the trust of others and the trust of our Creator. He informs us that God detests dishonesty (20:10) but delights in honesty (11:1) and those who are truthful (12:22). He is pleased when we do what is right and just (21:3) and councils that it is wiser to be honest because “a righteous man escapes trouble” (12:13).

Dishonest gains are seldom lasting and are really of no value to those who receive them by deceit. And most people ultimately appreciate truth more than dishonest flattery. My mother repeatedly told me that “if you don’t have something nice to say about someone, it’s best not to say anything”. I’ve since found this to be true in most cases, but sometimes your silence betrays you. And sometimes it’s good to speak up to right a wrong even if it puts you in jeopardy. There may also be moments when it may not be such a good idea to be brutally honest. Like the wife who complains while looking in the mirror that everything is either going south or leaving completely. And the husband replies that at least her eyesight is still good!

I recently ran across a three panel cartoon that illustrates the point perfectly. The scene apparently involved a young woman that is being interviewed for a job by a three member panel of company associates. I’ve been on both ends of that interaction all too many times. And there were many times when I had to bite my tongue and harken back to my mother’s words to remain silent or at least parse my words. One of the classic interview questions that goes around is to ask the prospective candidate to elaborate on any of their perceived weaknesses. That’s a delicate question to field. And one should tread lightly and deliberately. Like, “Sometimes I’m too hard on myself”. That’s something we can all relate to and isn’t too toxic. The irony shared in this cartoon is that it deals with honesty (and character). So the final panel which I didn’t share was the young woman’s probable, brutally honest, final response of the interview; “I don’t give a damn what you think!” Be careful out there.

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