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Is honesty actually the best policy?

We might believe it “helps” to be less than entirely truthful – that people can’t handle honesty or it’s better not to rock the boat and have to deal with the fall out – but is it really the best path? At times, it seems our social world’s in fact built on the calm seas of hidden realities: no-one quite daring to reveal the truth and allow its integration within a more complex, nuanced, trustworthy sense of where things stand.

It just seems there’s so many ways we’re not quite honest. All these ideas around the social value of agreeing, hiding differences, casting around all these little white lies that, perhaps, grease the wheels of comfortable togetherness. And, of course, we all have our patterns and opinions, so insisting on challenging and correcting one another all the time could well shut off communication altogether.

But what’s the right balance? Without truth, where do we stand? Presumably, on a foundation of uncertainty, doubt and distrust. If we’re less than honest and expect similar dishonesty from others, we surely all exist in an ambiguous middle ground? A place of second guessing, imagination, filling in gaps, and concealing true feelings.

Maybe that’s simply “being sociable”? Keeping things back. Not quite revealing ourselves or showing our hand. Not letting others see us as we truly are or what we really think or feel about things. This game of illusions, masks and pretence as we deflect the penetrating gaze of others or attempt to control their idea of us. It’s interesting really, the social dance.

What are we trying to achieve though? Is it this idea of life being a drama? Our words, actions and appearances influencing how things play out as we seek advantage, power, popularity, or whatever else. It’s seemingly the root of the word “personality” – the persona, or mask, we create and live through (Note One).

I suppose it comes down to our sense of what life’s about? Are we here to share our true nature, learn from one another, grow beyond ourselves and our limited understanding? If so, might we all have a sort of duty to offer our true perspective, even if we don’t yet see what it means or how it might be useful?

This sense of entrusting others with the finest truth we can muster, in as acceptable a form as we’re able. As in, not to be brutal or speak with the intent to wound, but share our thoughts on life in case others can learn something from them (Notes Two). A picture, perhaps, of each person holding their part of the truth and contributing their perspective within the larger context?

Who knows what the “right” way is, but technology’s surely now offering us fewer places to hide? Modern life, with its carefree communication and illusion of privacy, seems a powerful challenge toward greater honesty (Notes Three). Can we handle that? Regardless, within a world of increasing transparency, accountability and divergent viewpoints, maybe we can’t keep avoiding the truth.

Notes and References:

Note 1: Masks we all wear
Note 2: Living as an open wound
Note 2: Conversation as revelation
Note 2: Is anything obvious to someone who doesn’t know?
Note 2: What we say & what we mean
Note 2: Making adjustments
Note 3: Value in visible impacts
Note 3: All that’s going on around us
Note 3: Can we manage all-inclusive honesty?
Note 3: The power of understanding
Note 3: Who should we trust?

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