Article in brief: The article stresses on the importance of honesty, and how in most cases it might not come wholly, or it might but with a price.
Honesty, real honesty, is actually a very misunderstood thing. Thomas Jefferson said, “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” Therefore, honesty is connected to wisdom, something treasured and invaluable.
I believe we live in an opinionated world. Leo Tolstoy once said, “We can only know that we know nothing, and that is the highest degree of human wisdom.” This in my opinion backs up Jefferson’s quote above, as well as my previous statement.
We live in a time where almost everyone we meet likes to say, “You know me; I’m honest”, when in reality honesty is not as common as people think it is. Not necessarily because people lie, but because of the reasons they are being honest. To be an honest person, one has to be a well-wisher, and want the best for people. An honest person can help you improve in your personal as well as your professional life. He or she gives you valuable feedback, and allows you to see any potential room for improvement, but also points out the things you did right. A person who does only one of the two does not earn the “honest” title.
One the one hand, if one points out all the faults, flaws, and negative stuff, even though their opinions may be right, he does not earn the honest title yet if they are not going to mention the positives. The reason is a key. Some do it because of lack of manners and some do it out of insecurity. After all “To belittle, you have to be little.” -Kahlil Gibran
On the other hand, a person who only compliments people and mentions the right that they did is not an honest person either. Even though in both these situations, both people might be pointing out facts [positive or negative], they are doing it for the wrong reasons.
To be truly honest with others, like most things, one needs to be honest with himself/herself and ask themselves why they are about to mention this comment/feedback/etc. It’s a thin line, and a delicate balance. This is why, I believe, the term “honesty” is misunderstood.
“Nothing in this world is harder than speaking the truth, nothing easier than flattery.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Unfortunately, this gap of being honest only for one of the two (positive or negative) most likely can come from lack of awareness. I find it hard to imagine that awareness would have any meaning without self-awareness. Virginia Woolf said, “If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.”
And if at times we must be what they call “brutally” honest, then it must be for the sake of honesty, and not the brutality.
Of course, what I mean in this piece about honesty is when it mainly comes to feedback or comments but regarding the bigger, more important things. “White lies” don’t make a person any less honest. Honesty goes beyond one sentence or one conversation.
I’d like to end my piece and quote someone who understood this truly and completely:
“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
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