Honesty can seem like a simple concept. Merriam-Webster defines it as “fairness and straightforwardness of conduct; adherence to the facts; sincerity.” Or perhaps we are more familiar with it being “to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” But, like any other traits, I believe there is more depth to it than either of those. I like it when someone tells me that I am doing a good job, but it’s harder to take if they share the opposite opinion. Yet, both could be said with an honest heart. So even a simple thing like honesty has a gray area for me, around when (and perhaps how) to be honest.
I was listening to the radio the other day and a woman kept saying she was “just being honest.” The hosts and the person she was talking to (and about) said she was simply being rude. By the end of the segment, she was quite upset with the situation, not understanding why she shouldn’t be honest. If honesty is indeed saying what is true, does that mean that one has the “inalienable right” to say whatever he or she thinks, and others must endure it? For me, the radio show lady had collapsed honesty and truth. Someone can hold an honest opinion, but it isn’t necessarily THE TRUTH. The two are not one in the same. It’s a distinction between fact and opinion. Saying “I’m just being HONEST” doesn’t excuse saying whatever you believe in whatever way suits you. For instance, if you’re telling someone that they’re wearing the ugliest outfit you’ve ever seen…you’re just being rude. Another can hold an honest, and opposite, opinion of the same outfit. However, if you are asked a question, like “What do you think of my outfit?”, my grandma would have told me to be honest, while being kind. If I truly didn’t like it, an answer like “It’s super bright!” would please her.
There are also times when the WHOLE truth does NOT need to be known by everyone. In a culture where so many share every detail of life (where you ate, when you burped, etc.), it may come as a shock to realize that there are MANY times the better choice is simply to be quiet. In the trivial most definitely, but also in the consequential. The latter I sometimes struggle with. It is especially hard if I feel “I know better” or “You’re wrong – it went this way.” And it’s easy to feel self-righteous in my honesty…. That I simply. Must. SPEAK. I am still learning to hold my tongue, and quite often I have later been thankful when I have been able to do so.
I have four kiddos – ages 12, 10.5, 8.5, and almost 6. I wish I could say they have always been honest with me, but then, that wouldn’t be honest. I wish I could say that I have always been honest, but again, I cannot. I may have more life experience and wisdom than my kids, but we still learn from each other every day. As they grow into this worldwide culture, I want them to be able to create a life that honors others while allowing them to be true to themselves. Honesty done well is part of that. All of the PACE traits are. I want them to have Fairness, Honesty, Diligence, Trustworthiness, Courage, Integrity, Generosity, Gratitude, Respect, Responsibility, Citizenship, and Caring. I want the coming generations to have these things.
Back to the radio lady. Really, I think she was hurt by what she heard, and she used the facade of honesty to lash out. She tried to justify being mean and hurtful by touting her opinion as fact that NEEDED to be known by others. I submit to each of you that we, as the members whose actions define the culture, bring back the true spirit of honesty, as that positive trait we seek to instill in ourselves, and in our children.
Cassi Surprise has her Bachelor of Education from Union College via Canadian University College and is a wife, mother, and teacher in the Spokane Valley. This is the second year her children have been enrolled in the East Valley Parent Partnership program, and her first year teaching there. She has worn many hats over the years, including tutor at Sylvan Learning Center, professional facepaint artist at fairs, essential oil enthusiast, Spartan racer (Sprint and Super), Ketogenic lifestyle activist, skydiving dabbler, music and art lover, and occasional world traveler (Australia, Philippines, Canada). She believes we are each individually responsible for the state of the world and that our words and actions matter, which is why the PACE character traits hold significance to her and her family.