The Lost Art of Honesty

The Lost Art of Honesty

When was the last time you didn't fear someone you loved wasn't telling the truth? Was there every such a time? Is honesty only relevant in a fictional world?

Whether it be in love, life or politics, the truth has become hidden under piles and mounds of untruths, leaving the honest to wade through them like garbage-men trying to find a lost cat. It's difficult to think how the genesis of all this happened, the loss of truth.

For one, we've become a culture that values Political Correctness over the facts. If we can lie to pick up someone's day, why not do it? It's so much easier than telling them a truth that might potentially hurt them, yes, but teach them a lesson. Why do we feel the need to obscure the truth? Especially when it comes to family (not mine specifically, but in general) we are so afraid of twisting anyone's nose that we'd just rather stay under the radar. We've become a culture that is terrified of offending anyone, and it's a real shame. I'm not saying we should senselessly ridicule someone for no reason, but if they're doing something wrong, shouldn't we tell them, rather than risk the possibility that they might never learn the correct way to do something? Teachers tiptoe around students and are deathly afraid of steeping a toe out of line, because little Jimmy might complain to his parents that the teacher criticized his drawing technique and they'll sue the school district, because Jimmy believes he's a beautiful artist.

Honesty, as defined by philosopher Ayn Rand, is "the recognition of the fact that the unreal is unreal and can have no value, that neither love nor fame nor cash is a value if obtained by fraud—that an attempt to gain a value by deceiving the mind of others is an act of raising your victims to a position higher than reality, where you become a pawn of their blindness, a slave of their non-thinking and their evasions, while their intelligence, their rationality, their perceptiveness become the enemies you have to dread and flee—that you do not care to live as a dependent, least of all a dependent on the stupidity of others, or as a fool whose source of values is the fools he succeeds in fooling—that honesty is not a social duty, not a sacrifice for the sake of others, but the most profoundly selfish virtue man can practice: his refusal to sacrifice the reality of his own existence to the deluded consciousness of others." (Ayn Rand, For The New Intellectual, p. 129)

By this definition, if we fake reality by lying to a person, we are giving them a part of us. Faking reality benefits no one, not the person you're deluding nor yourself. When you fake reality, you give yourself to another person's delusion - you become a part of their imaginary world where you are, pretty much, the only inhabitant.

Why should we allow an irrational person to dictate our reality? Like the man who built his house on sand, we are setting ourselves up for present and future failure.

Honesty is a virtue, something we should hold dear. Honesty is one of the commandments of the rational man. Fighting irrational people with more irrationality only sets up both parties for sadness. If you love, or value, someone, why would you want to delude them? Even something as small as a haircut can be an example of this: Your wife gets a haircut and you don't like it. If you say you DO like it, at every cocktail party you'll have to account for why you like it, fudging the truth again to these people. If the haircut is truly horrendous, they may even begin to doubt your judgment in other matters. This is a rather innocuous example, but you get the crux of my point.

Pathological liars aside, no one goes into a conversation specifically to lie. We mostly lie to protect our wrongdoings, which is a separate subject unto itself. I won't expound on that.

In Honesty, as in all of life, you need to define what you believe. Floating through life without any ideals won't work for long. You need to define exactly what you believe and, if you do that, you will know how to act and what to do in any given situation, regardless of its severity. If you define a code of ethics, you'll never be ambiguous.

And so, instead of a lengthy summary to end this argument, I will simply quote my mother: "The truth always comes out."

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My dear readers, I ask you from this point forward to reassess your definition of Honesty. What does Honesty mean to you? What are the benefits you've seen of true honesty? Comment here and tell me what you think about Honesty, Lies and what you've seen in your own lies regarding this subject!

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