Henson & His Works

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Is Honesty Always The Best Policy?


In our daily lives, we often hear the word ‘honesty.’ A great number of literary works, films, dramas, and so forth are made based on this word. Yes, honesty is one of the interesting topics to talk about.

Being honest means that what we say or do is in line with our conscience. If we are not honest, it means that we try to deceive our conscience. Therefore, we, as God’s creatures, are supposed to uphold the value of honesty. No religion preaches its adherents to be dishonest. Having an honest attitude is actually the reflection of moral awareness.

Some people say that it is rather difficult to find an honest person these days. Hypocrisy has colored this sophisticated and modern life. It seems that what they have said is right. Dishonesty has developed in many forms, like cheating during exams, telling a lie, committing corruption, and faking things.
Honesty is our mental attitude. It will have a big impact on our social interaction. When we talk with a dishonest person, maybe we will not trust all she/he is saying. To be dishonest is very bad since no one will believe us. Even we will be called “The Big Mouth” or “The Braggart.”
Nevertheless, we occasionally have no alternative. What I mean here is that we are compelled by the situation to be dishonest. In this case, we are stricken by a dillema. In one side we want to be honest. But, if we indulge our feeling, it will even make the situation worse. So, we must be more tactful in coping with this problem, I think. Being dishonest is sinful. Yet, for some certain cases it will be all right.
Below are some examples of situations which allow us not to be honest:
  1. You are standing in front of your house. A woman is running towards you, out of breath. She asks you to do her a favor. Her husband is running after her. He is furious and wants to kill her because of their family problems. And then, because there is no more time to talk, the woman hastily get into your house and hides in it. Not long afterwards, comes the woman’s husband, taking along a sharp sword with him. His emotion seems to be uncontrollable. He asks you if you know where his wife is. What are you going to do then? Are you going to be honest by telling him where his wife is? If you are honest in this situation, I bet it will be very hazardous.
  2. Johny (just call him so) is your friend. You know each other’s personality very well and you always share your feeling with each other. One day something happens with Johny. He comes to you and tells you that his girlfriend is in the family way. He also tells you how it happened. Unexpectedly, this news spreads out. Some of your friends ask you about it for they know that you are his close friend. You don’t want to disclose Johny’s disgrace. So you are not honest by saying,”I’m sorry I know nothing about it.”
  3. You are invited to have dinner by your prospective mother-in-law. The meal was cooked by her herself. She wants to serve you with her own cooking. When you eat your soup, it tastes insipid. Your mother-in-law asks,”What do you think of the soup?” In order to make the atmosphere good, you reply,”Oh… it’s so delicious. How good you are at cooking, Mom!”
In conclusion, although honesty is a positive mental attitude and one of the indicators of one’s personality, it does not mean that being honest is always good. Now and then we are demanded not to be honest due to the situation and condition. Indeed, honesty is the best policy, but not always!


(My article above was published in Dialogue English Magazine No. 3/XXII/1997)



11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Hens, It me, Adriansyah, my family and my close friends call me Yayang.
You wrote a good article, some how I wanna give any comments:
Honesty will be absolutely and always best policy if everything also runs very well.
In case 1. we will tell the truth if we are really sure the man will do absolutely the right thing to thwe woman.
In case 2 we can tell that I know but i dont want to talk about it.
In case 3 We can tell the truth if we are sure the mother-in-law in future will do the very right thing, that is she will accept it, and make any changes to make her cooks better.
The problems (or the interestings?) in our lives are that we cannot find any absolute correctness. Something we think is good, may be not good at all to other(s), vice versa. Thats why, sometimes, we still need to tell “White Lie”

Anonymous said...

Who said, honesty is very easy? The more one try to be honest, the harder, he or she will be tested. In reality, people can lose everything in life to uphold honesty, if you are not careful each moment. A honest police man who is after the criminals will need to watch for his life, each and every moment. A honest business person or an employee needs to remember that he or she is being talked about in private and any simple mistake will be hazardous.
In the above scenarios,
1: You need to close your door and call police and friends immediately. Do not open the door for her husband and avoid the situation of talking to him. You will be fine, without telling a lie.
2: When somebody asks about Johnny, do not answer that question. Change the topic; make the person understand subtly that you are not interested in discussing it. At the point, if he or she does not respect your decision, you do not want to keep that friendship… Because, that friendship will hurt you later, even if you keep it. It is a good test for your friendship.
3: In the third case, again, ”Oh… it’s so delicious. How good you are at cooking, Mom!” is not the only answer. Do not give it to anyone (and definitely not to your mother in law) if that person does not deserve it… If you are forced to give an answer say, find something that is honest you can say about it. If there is absolutely nothing good you can find about that soup, and then just smile…. A mother in law who is a bad cook, who thinks that she is a great cook, will come back and hunt you again. The next time, it will not be a soup, but a poorly cooked steak, which will make you throw up. And her expectation will be very high, and a honesty at that point will be even harder.
I always faced this question during all my life – How is the food? I never lied. When I was a child, I did hurt many feelings by directly answering the question. When I knew it better, I learned to duck the question, and say something positive or a joke. Fortunately, my mother in law is a great cook and I can honestly say that she is a great cook. I think that is what being honest against at all odds might bring you– The reward from god: A life or after life (if you believe in it) where you can be honest.

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