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A web of honesty

I talked at some length in my last post about honesty. I did so because I care a great deal about honesty--and I didn't make that clear enough in my last post.

What does honesty mean to me? It is one of the most important ideas in my whole philosophy on life. I strive to be as completely, perfectly honest as I can possibly be. I also expect and demand the same standard of honesty in everybody else.

What is honesty? Total honesty is the absolute avoidance of falsehoods. Lying... goes without saying. Telling a falsehood, if I'm aware that it's false, is lying. Allowing someone to believe an untruth is also lying, even if I don't overtly state a falsehood. Even telling the truth in a manner so as to cause someone to be misled is lying.

If I unwittingly utter a falsehood, then I require myself to make the actual truth known to the person(s) as soon as I am made aware. The significance or triviality of any statements is irrelevant; I demand total honesty of myself in literally all situations, even potentially awkward ones. (Yes, even, "Honey, does this make me look fat?")

Why do I bother going to such extreme lengths to be perfectly honest? Though the details are embarrassing, I withhold them simply to spare those reading this post from boredom. I lied to someone very dear to me many years ago, and in order to maintain the deception, I needed to construct a web of lies. This person didn't believe me, but even though I wasn't actually caught in my lies, and I didn't become exhausted from the stress of keeping them up, I nevertheless obtained a conviction that I was disrespecting and greatly hurting this person, as well as disgracing myself... simply because I knew I was lying. That's all it took. I was sick and ashamed of myself. Though I could have maintained the web of deceit for as long as I wanted, I voluntarily explained the whole truth. I also made a promise to God, right then, that I would never lie again... to anyone... about anything... ever!

Yet I would not have anyone believe that I am perfectly honest. Being "perfectly honest" is different from being "as perfectly honest as I can possibly be." If I declared that I was perfectly honest, and never told any falsehood, even by mistake, I would be lying! But when I falter, I strive to catch myself and immediately make the truth known, insofar as I am able to. I am also grateful when someone points out whenever I say anything untrue, because I will then immediately correct the error.

All this might sound like self-righteous bragging. But the purpose is not to espouse how great I am--because I am not great. After all, I have nothing about which to brag. I've basically said, so far, "I only tell the truth... except when I don't. But when I don't, I fix it just as soon as I can!" Big deal. I am only doing what I believe I must do, day to day: be true to myself and everyone.

I read somewhere recently that the average person lies about 12 times a day... or 10, or 7... I really don't remember the exact number. It doesn't matter. That number includes the tiniest, whitest lies that people tell. I'm no fool. I know that the world is fraught with lies. I am lied to every day, but I don't fret about that. Nevertheless, I demand total honesty from everyone around me. How can I do that?

Part of the reason I strive to be as perfectly honest as possible is because I believe in treating people with respect. I would never be so disrespectful to anyone as to lie to him/her. Accordingly, that same level of respect necessarily requires the same expectation of everyone else. If anyone tells me something, I will believe it... generally. Does that make me naïve? No, and I will explain why.

Of course, if someone tells me something I already know to be untrue, I will not believe it. That would be silly. I will also consider the credibility of the person who's making the statement. If the person is inordinately incredible, then my skepticism will be commensurate with his lack of credibility. However, if I'm dealing with a person whom I have reason neither to believe nor doubt, then I will "believe" any reasonable thing he/she says. If I didn't, then I would be disrespecting the person. The concept of honesty always comes back to that of respect.

So, if I believe something that I later discover to be a lie, should I be embarrassed? Not at all! As far as I am concerned, the liar is embarrassed instead. If everything I do is above reproach, why should I worry about anything? Honestly! Wink

These are just some of my thoughts on the paramount importance of honesty. It can be difficult at times, but by my experience I can testify that it leads to an easier life.

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