We’ve all heard the adage… honesty is the best policy. But what does it mean? Honesty, sure… except if we can get ahead through the labyrinth of lies… like cheating on exams to get into a ‘better’ school– kissing up to the boss for that promotion at work– or hide when our spouse asks how much money we spent… after all, lies provide a temporary peace. That is, until the truth comes out destroying our good word. And truth always comes out. Relationships built upon trust must house something to trust- our good word- and thrive, despite life’s tragedies. But, when spouses lie to each other, is the marriage better for it? Check the divorce rate. –Also, look at social contract. If We, The People, accept dishonesty in our daily lives (marriage, work, community,) why should elected officials accept anything more? Isn’t it true that we will never attain more honesty than what we live? Honesty is the best policy… if happy marriage and thriving Democracy are our goals… and for our children, too.
A friend is being married and a few of us offered to stage the wedding shower. We decided to offer written notes of advice to the newlyweds. I thought about my own marriage. You can weather a lot of crises in a couple of decades of wedded bliss, and I asked myself: what advice would I want to hear, if I were starting out all over again?
One word came to mind: honesty. The ups and downs of our marriage flooded my memories as my fingers flew across the keyboard– and all I could say was, Thank you, God. Thank God we’re honest with each other. Brutally honest. Head-banging, screaming-at-the-top-of-our-lungs-at-each-other-honesty. And wordlessly-weeping-in-each-other’s-arms-honesty.
Life can be brutal. That’s why marriage can be brutal.
It is said, that through disappointments and failures, we develop character and wisdom. We must be two of the wisest humans on the planet! Except when compared with the other 5+ billion humans who, just like us, live day to day with failures, successes, joys and disappointments. In our twenty four years of marriage plus several homes, two kids, 9 pets, including one horse, three home businesses, seven cars, multiple vacations, tens of thousands of miles, 2 miscarriages, eight careers, 6-figure loses, one near-divorce, several lawsuits, multitudinous joys, I realized that without complete honesty, our marriage could not possibly survive. Let alone, thrive. Hence, to the newlyweds, I say:
“Be honest. Honest with self, with each other, with your marriage. Have the integrity to speak your mind at every turn, honestly. And forthrightly. Each of you. Even when failure reflects in his eyes and cuts your heart in two. Be honest. Give each other your faith, your fidelity and your integrity. It is the only thing you bring to this third party, this marriage. Because it is neither yours, nor his. Marriage cannot survive without your trustworthiness or nurturance, despite futile attempts to money it. Be honest. Even when cruelty cuts his heart in two and confusion drives him to desire a lie. In all situations and conditions, be honest. Breathe honesty… live it, dream it, drink it in, embrace it as manna from heaven… because truth sets you free. It is nourishment for the hungered soul in a barren world. Be honest with your mate. –And then, when you two navigate through unchartered waters and the turbulence of betrayals, he will trust his life to your moral compass… and you will trust yours to his. And that is everything. Everything you will ever need. And your children will bless you. Be honest. Thank you, God.”
On a larger scale, it is often said that our political leaders are anything but honest– a generalization with which I disagree. After serving briefly, many years ago, in a political vocation, I met and befriended many ethical politicians. But I also noticed that in fact, dishonesty can only survive in a dishonest environment. Like bacteria breeding in a lab plate. In fact, when I’ve pondered the claim of lacking integrity in Washington, I’m reminded of my earlier Sociological pursuits– knowing in my heart that we humans would not accept unethical behavior by others… unless we accept it in ourselves. It’s that simple. And that complex.
The Social Contract between We, The People, and government, calls for a commitment by all parties to engage in cohesive, balanced roles in this dance of Democracy. It is the basis of our rule of law, granted by the ruled, enacted by representatives that We, The People, employ at our behest through the contract of public petition and election. So why accept the so-called absence of honesty of our elected officials? Perhaps, it is because we accept it in ourselves.
It is time to say to ourselves… “Be honest…because honesty is the only thing We, The People, bring to this third party, our government…. Be honest…. Wield integrity to petition our government…. Be honest… live it, breath it, drink it in… be honest. Because honesty will set you free. And your children will bless you.”
Never demand from others what you refuse to demand of yourself. Be honest. –Thank you, God.
Copyright 2013 Suzy Right llc