“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom,” Thomas Jefferson once said. Yet, how does one come upon honesty? Is honesty the mere telling of factual information, recounting a series of events, and not cheating at Words With Friends (about which my good friend Eric recently blogged)? Or does honesty require a closer examination of the rationale behind a particular set of events? A truthfulness about why we did or said something and not just what was done or said? A sharing of what may lie in the unsaid so that others aren’t left to read between the lines?
Authentic honesty is at a premium. Human nature dictates that we protect ourselves. So we sugar coat a situation with a light tone of voice, or omit seemingly superfluous facts that, when taken as a whole, would significantly change the nature of a situation. We rewrite our own stories in our heads so that they become the story that we want them to be, and not what they actually are. We blame others for conflict, instead of accepting the role that we may have played. Or we exaggerate the facts to make a point, instead of just telling it like it is (this one is definitely my personal Achilles heel).
More often than not, we are a frequent recipient of our own dishonestly. Whether we use little white lies, complete fabrications, or absolute disillusions, we cannot be honest with others until we are first honest with ourselves. Once we are honest with ourselves, we gain access to that ever-popular book of wisdom, with its insight into ourselves, understanding of others, and perception of the world. And it is such an enlightening read.