Volume 90: The Price of Honesty

Posted on 12/04/2017

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Preface

Over the Thanksgiving holiday break, my family and I were performing some long overdue household chores. This process included throwing out old clothes, cleaning out drawers, hanging pictures, etc. Well, as she was cleaning out the nightstand, my wife came across two type-written pages with “The Price of Honesty” centered in bold at the top. Apparently, it was something I had written years ago and lost track of. Since it lacked a date, I cannot specifically determine when I wrote this, however because of the format and the fact that it’s never appeared on this blog leads me to assume it pre-dates Sillethoughts. This might just be the first blog I ever wrote. Pretty freaky when you think about it.

What’s exciting about this discovery is realizing that your (my) writing voice, style, and tone changes only slightly – even over 10 years later. Have I gotten better at expressing my thoughts?  I hope so. But the tone and style are distinctly my own. With that said, take a few moments and go back in time with me as I attempt to explain “The Price of Honesty”.

The Price of Honesty

My wife and I had a discussion the other day. And, if you’re a man like me, the “discussion” was centered on some action or misstep of mine. As we resolved our differences, the conversation became philosophical. I love these types of interchanges because it allows me to flex my intellectual muscle while convincing others to submit to my overwhelming logic. As I bombarded her with a dizzying array of if-then, vacuous, and sometimes nonsensical statements, she stood silently and firmly on one simple point: Tell the truth. Her seemingly simple statement evolved only once from tell the truth to tell the whole truth. Despite my numerous efforts, I could not overcome this one command we give to children. As I walked away dazed and defeated, I began to ponder the veracity of her position. The following is what I surmised.

I have learned over the years that there is no equalizer greater than the truth. Truth has toppled governments. Truth has overcome injustice. And, most importantly, truth provides insight to human nature. However, man is a complex being. We are so complex that we have decided that the truth has versions, and the version to which we subscribe is dependent upon the context of our subscription. Our ability to reason and rationalize the simple and the complex provides the necessary buffer between “the whole truth and nothing but“, while at the same time satisfying the cognitive dissonance created by our version of the truth.

Simply stated, if we include enough unfiltered truth in our version of it, it becomes more believable to the receiver and assuages any guilt that could arise by telling a lie.

Nevertheless truth, in its purest form, has a way of making itself known – despite our desperate efforts to conceal it. For example, the executives at Enron deceptive practices that cost investors and employees millions of dollars was unveiled by a whistleblower that believed in the truth. In America, the revisionist history of early textbooks are constantly being challenged by those persons that have decided to not let the truth die with those who knew it. In our own lives, cheaters get caught, liars get exposed, and what seems too good to be true usually is. Yes, truth finds a way to be known whether it is sooner or later.

The next question that is usually asked is, “How?” There are several paths upon which the truth finds its way to be known. The least sophisticated form is pure, old-fashioned guilt. The whistleblowers at Enron and other companies felt compelled to expose the truth. Some of these persons are initially rebuffed for their efforts because the version and context of the deception fits the schema of the receiver. The Enron employees and investors wanted to believe the company was performing well. Some versions of the truth are acceptable because “the whole truth and nothing but”  forces us to change the way we view the world.

Leaders and historians over the centuries have been assassinated, both literally and figuratively, for their roles in exposing the truth.

Investing time and energy into deception and partial truths seems counterintuitive. If indeed “the truth shall set you free“, why wouldn’t everyone want that freedom? Because freedom has a price that some of us aren’t willing to pay. For example, we live in a “free” country, but we have to spend billions of dollars annually protecting that freedom. We even send young men and women to their death in defense of that freedom. Some aren’t willing to place that sacrifice  on the altar of freedom. However, if it weren’t for those patriotic soldiers, we many not enjoy the “freedom” we have today. The same can be said for the soldiers of truth. There are few brave and determined souls that don’t accept lies, innuendo, conjecture,  half, or contextual truths. They demand truth in its purest form. In other words, they want the whole truth and nothing but.

It is in those people that we see a world of hope. It is through their eyes that we remove the rose-colored lenses of our lives and address the inconsistencies. It is they that have pushed us to evolve from club wielding cave dwellers with only an id to guide us, to complex beings with a super ego. As a member of the delusional class, I admire those people that stand up for truth, and I aspire to be one of them. Finally, I invite you to join me on the quest for the “freedom of truth”. If you’re anything like me, you might need a part-time job to pay for it.

#my3cents

Sillethoughts

“Peep my ver-na-cular cuz I don’t know how to act…”

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