Back in 2011, when I tested to move up from the
yellow gold belt rank to the orange belt rank I had to complete a written test, part of which was a half page essay on a subject determined by the rank I was advancing to. For the orange belt, the subject was ‘Honesty.’
I’m ashamed to say that I phoned it in. I waited until the last minute, and pounded out some weakly funny paragraph and a half roughly related to honesty. As I’ve moved up in rank, and completed a couple more tests, I’ve realized that I should have taken the exercise more seriously than I did.
I’m correcting that today.
Honesty (n) – the quality of being honest; uprightness and fairness, truthfulness, sincerity, or frankness.
Often, we consider the act of being honest as being an external trait. You think of a person as honest if he is truthful and fair with you. If he treats people well and sincerely, then he’s a good, honest man. Still, is that the best measure of a man’s honesty?
At it’s root, honesty is an internal value. A person is honest if he is the same person with you that he is with everyone else. If he’s the same person when he is all alone. Honesty is a measure of consistency of character.
To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest.
That consistency isn’t inherently a measure of good or evil, either. I don’t think any of us would look at Charles Dickens’ character Ebenezer Scrooge and think of him as a good role model. He was a greedy and selfish tightwad. He was isolated, unfeeling and cold. And yet, he was never dishonest. He consistently stuck to the principles he believed in, until he no longer believed them.
Once we understand that, it becomes far easier to measure honesty in ourselves. Take an accurate account of your behavior based on the core principles that you claim to believe. How well does your private self hold to them compared to the person you are among friends and to the image you project in public? The differences you uncover will help clarify how severely singed your pants are.
What do you think? Is honesty more than just being consistent? Can you be evil, but truthful and fair?
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