How Honest Are You?

How Honest Are You?

mother and daughter talkingby Rebecca Mallory
 “Honesty is the best policy” is a famous proverb written by Benjamin Franklin. Even Wikipedia says that “Honesty refers to a facet of moral character and connotes positive and virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness, and straightforwardness, including straightforwardness of conduct, along with the absence of lying, cheating, theft, etc.” Furthermore, honesty means being trustworthy, loyal, fair.” It’s so much easier to just be honest in the first place rather than having to back track, recall what you said to whom in what situation, and then possibly get caught anyway. People don’t trust you then.  Trust is very fragile and fickle and hard to regain.
If this is true, why do we see such a void of honesty today? Perhaps because often, honesty is the hardest policy. We’ve all heard stories, or experienced ourselves, being caught in a web of deceit or lies that made us feel uncomfortable or got us in even bigger trouble. What’s the big deal with honesty? In today’s world where so many high-profile celebrities and politicians are anything but honest, how do we protect our children and teach them right from wrong?
Back in the 50’s and 60’s, children were taught right and wrong which was then reinforced at church and at school. Children were punished for treating each other unkindly, taking things that were not their own, or punished for cheating on tests and other assignments. Fast forward to today where churches are losing members because of the persecution of religious beliefs and dishonesty is often rewarded or ignored because “we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings or single them out by embarrassing them.” This is a destructive and backward policy. People, old and young, need to be held accountable for their actions. Embarrassment and shame are natural consequences of bad behavior. That’s how they learn, that’s how they progress and become valuable members of a successful and well-functioning society. Everyone makes mistakes but we need to learn from those mistakes, however painful. Honesty should be a basic principle that parents and teachers revere and hold in high priority. If you love your children, teach them honesty. Today’s public schools have reverted from teaching values and morals. Ridiculous. It makes no sense to me.
I recently read a story about a large family growing up in the mid-west. They had little money. The father, in order to keep his children safe in the yard, strung a large rope around the perimeter and made each child promise that they would not cross that rope for any reason without permission, which they all did. One day they were playing with a ball which flew over that rope and landed well beyond. Later, their uncle came to visit and saw the children lined up looking longingly at that ball. They had never considered breaking their promise to their father to retrieve the ball. Their uncle was impressed to say the least!

What would you have done? What would I have done? After all, either you’re honest, or your not. There is no in between. It is sobering when you look at it as a black and white issue especially in a society where “50 shades of grey” is the disappointing norm. Seemingly small stories like this one absolutely pale in comparison to the horrific displays of criminal dishonesty that we have all witnessed from NFL stars and politicians vying for the nation’s top office. “Winning at all cost” is cried from the rooftops of almost all venues. It doesn’t matter if you cheat, lie, steal, or even cause pain or death to others as long as you win and, of course, have a great team of lawyers who can get you off just in case you get caught.

We all watched in horror at the events in Ferguson, MO, and Baltimore as criminals were allowed and almost encouraged to loot and destroy property because of their supposed disadvantaged lot in life. What a horrible way to treat people! To expect despicable behavior from anyone should be condemned by every living person. Why not do our best to lift them up and give them hope and encouragement? Expect honesty! Yet the “go to” band-aid is to throw more money at impoverished communities. Here again, dishonesty prevails as much of these funds never make it to the streets to help those who need it most. Google for yourself where the billions of dollars that we’re allocated to Baltimore from the stimulus in 2008 actually ended up.
It’s criminal.
So here’s your only chance for survival, America. Be honest in all you do. If you see that the paper towels at the bottom of your grocery cart were not paid for, take your children back in to the store and let them watch you pay for it. If not, you’re stealing it. (Plus the look on the clerk’s face will be priceless!) Teach your children to be honest in everything they do. Teaching by example is a most powerful tool, as they watch and mimic your every move. The temptation to take the easy road of cheating, lying, and stealing is alluring. Especially when they see celebrities and even their own peers getting away with it. Teach them that what’s even more alluring is being respected and revered by all because they can be trusted. Just weigh the results of each.  Which will help them most in the long run? Our world is starving for honest and forthright men and women. Let’s you and I be those people. Let’s consciously raise the next generation to rise above a dishonest and depraved society. Hey! I guess honesty is the best policy!
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