Honesty

There has been a lot of talk, in recent days, about honesty.
It must be in the process of becoming a high priority, at least for some, made evident by its extreme lack.
Where did it go?
Why did it go?
How to get it back?

We can’t ‘get it back’. Not in the instant-gratification style, anyway.
But it is eminently possible to recover it, on a personal level.
Simply by being personally honest.

There exists a strange figure of speech: To be ‘brutally honest’.
Brutal? Hard to imagine how such a term became associated with honesty.
Honesty, it is said, is a virtue. The same can hardly be said of brutality.
It speaks of the modern mindset, that brutal becomes equated with honesty.

There needs be nothing brutal about honesty.
Reflecting reality is hardly brutal. Certainly it can be, if designed to be, but there is nothing inherently brutal in avoiding misrepresentation of what is.

Woman buys hat (see picture).
Woman asks man: “Do you like my new hat?”
Man thinks hat is grotesque.
Man says: “That hat stinks. It makes you look like an aesthetically-challenged group of tadpoles.”

Well, that may be honest, or it may be dishonest. The man may actually have nothing against the hat, but something against the woman. He may have something against the hat, and something against the woman. He may actually despise the hat.
But the woman’s response, to his response, is largely the woman’s responsibility, not just the man’s.
She asked him if he liked the hat.
She did not ask him if he liked her.
If he replies that he does not like the hat, it does not explicitly imply that he does not like her, even if he doesn’t.

So we have a situation in which the woman expects a certain response. A positive one. Thus a negative one, even if honest, becomes ‘brutal’.

It would seem that honesty is not necessarily brutal, in itself, then, but is perceived as being brutal by the expectations and demands of the recipient of honesty.
Thus honesty, by itself, needs not be brutal, at all. Only its perception.

The man may respond:
“That hat doesn’t do you justice, but that is only my own opinion of it.”
He may go even further, and say:
“It is what you think of your hat that counts, my love. No hat could improve upon, or detract from, your vast and incomparable beauty.”
Or personality. Or graciousness. Or fearsomeness. Depending upon the sort of woman being responded to, or the sort of relationship he may have, with her.

But this essay has begun to descend into the ridiculous, and so…

Honesty is neutral, then, unless, by intent, it is designed to be otherwise.
It reports reality. It can be relied upon, because it is unchanging.
It can become a baseline from which to venture out, on sorties into the chaos of society, and to return to, when society becomes too chaotic to bear.

There is no downside to honesty, although that may seem to fly in the face of reason.
I speak from experience. I have tested this, to destruction, only to find it remains intact, undestroyed by all my destructive testing.
I have had policemen, for example, inviting me to lie, to exaggerate, to misrepresent, in order to make a better case, and when I refused to do so, finding that I remained, as if by magic, among the living, and with no dire consequences to deal with, or further misrepresent.

When you don’t lie, you are dealing with data that does not change.
There is nothing to keep track of, to take into account, to organize and keep consistent.
The only limitations upon honesty are those that are dependent upon one’s memory.
Alzheimer’s sufferers, or amnesiacs may have some difficulty with this, but then, they have a valid excuse.
Nobody else does.

So we find we have a choice.
We may choose to be brutal.
We may choose to be honest.
We may even choose to be both.
But we have a choice!

33 Comments

  1. A. Realist says:

    I don’t think the essay descends into the ludicrous at all. It’s the everyday social situations that convince us that lying and pretending to be “tolerant” and “accepting” of wrong things in fact constitute a “right” thing.

    How much better would American society be, for example, if our elites were able to admit that they do not want to be around poorer people? That they want to act in their own self-interest is social anathema, so they lie about it, so you get lots of third world aid and very public leftist politics.

    How much better would this society be if black people were simply able to say, “You know what? @%!&# Ofay, I’m getting out of this cracker-ridden place. Self-rule it is.”

    1. How much better would our society be if middle-class white people just admitted they don’t want to be around anyone else but middle-class white people? Even middle-class black people just want to be around middle-class black people. They don’t like the ghetto blacks and they don’t like too many uppity crackers around.

      1. A. Realist says:

        How much better would society be if we admitted any number of things…

        That the homeless are generally insane and usually criminal. That ghettos could be repatriated to Africa and no one would mind. That people in white neighborhoods will shoot you if you walk around in a hoodie with no particular purpose.

        Even that China is not a friend but a mortal enemy, or that the Brazil “miracle” is based on selling cheap labor and is about to end, or that all of Eastern Europe is a giant Mafia joint. Or that the UK is now a a large scale version of Detroit.

        We could go further. Middle class white people generally hate poor white people. They see in them their own origins, and what they fear becoming. This is why middle class white people love the “foreign” poor.

  2. I would read
    More of
    Your blogs

    If they did not
    Resemble
    High school
    Poetry.

    You’re writing
    In a style
    That helps sometimes
    But often
    Makes me feel
    Like I’m reading
    Dr. Seuss

    Possibly
    You should vary
    Your style
    A little bit
    For the over-13s

    1. crow says:

      Possibly you should avoid expecting
      anything produced by anyone else
      to be as you would prefer
      it to be.

      Especially if you are over 13.

    2. I’m not over 13. Please accommodate me too.

    3. Eric says:

      Actually, when I read this the other day I thought it was quite good. And I am certain I have a pretty high IQ and ability for discernment. Oh well, that’s how it goes I suppose.

    4. A. Realist says:

      Disagree. I’m not particularly fond of the style but I don’t think it’s excessive or dependent on age. It’s also really good to break up the normally “heavy” atmosphere around here.

  3. Sun says:

    Tact:

    1
    : sensitive mental or aesthetic perception
    2
    : a keen sense of what to do or say in order to maintain good relations with others or avoid offense

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tact

    1. crow says:

      That worked well in the days when almost nobody actively sought-out things to be offended by.
      Tact is far less useful, in modern times, and is often confused with lying.
      Goodwill is a useful template for living.
      Spread the word.

      1. I am offended by people being offended. To which government office to I apply for benefits?

      2. Sun says:

        Oh, I value honestly and get especially frustrated otherwise. I’ll agree with you.

        However, tact, both the old usage, and new usage both have benefits.

        Would you care to be honest with your boss, crow? I didn’t think so.

        There have been many times where I wanted to tell a teacher what was really on my mind. Best to smile, say some bullshit, and let them think they are likable and great.

        1. crow says:

          “Would you care to be honest with your boss, crow? I didn’t think so.”
          If I had a boss, I would be honest with it. Any time I have had a boss, I have been honest with it. This goes a long way to explaining why I have so seldom been in stable employment in my life.
          You choose: integrity, or the alternative. Being the only one who choses integrity is difficult, and poor-making, but that’s the choice you make.
          It pays off bigtime in the end :)

        2. Gracie says:

          I think being honest with your boss can be a good thing. I’ve told my boss that I’m under-paid and the only reason I stay there is because I like the industry and small business. I’ve also let her know that I’m not there to build her dreams, but to finance my own. Before, when I was tactful, I was way to stressed out. Now I tell her the truth, and when I need time off or want a raise I get it, within reason. She knows that I will do good for the company as long as I feel it is a good environment for me, and when it is no longer a good fit I’ll leave. It is much less stressful now thanks to foregoing the politeness.

          1. Sun says:

            You forget that you’ve been there for a while.

            Time eases interactions.

            Do you think you would’ve gotten the same results if you mentioned that on the first day of work?

            1. A. Realist says:

              Would he/she have known relative pay rates on the first day? I doubt it.

              1. crow says:

                I think, Sun, you have hinted at a state-of-mind that is so well camouflaged, and so hard to define, that it mostly goes unnoticed.
                When I refer to honesty, I am not referring to a weapon with which to beat adversaries with. Me better than you! Me more honest than you! No. That’s not honesty.
                Honesty is a flashlight, a torch, to carry in case of finding yourself in a dark place. It is there to improve your own performance, not that of others.
                Although others may make use of that light, too.
                Everybody seems to see everything, all of the time, as themselves against the world.
                But imagine seeing yourself as the world thereby improving oneself in order to improve the world.
                This is how you ‘save the world’. By saving yourself.
                Looks pretty small, doesn’t it? Pretty insignificant.
                But fixing themselves, is so far beyond the capabilities of most people, that very few ever achieve it.
                Become honest, and you become better equipped to function in a dishonest world. At the same time, the world gets one less dishonest person, in it.
                I suggest you take my word for it, and act as-if.
                But better yet, become honest, and see for yourself.
                You’ll find that honesty diminishes ego, and that is what makes honesty work. Whereas the ego, before becoming honest, is unable to imagine honesty as being in any way useful.

                1. Sun says:

                  Yes being honest with yourself is important.

                  Meditation illuminates more then you know.

                  I have cultivated that insight.

                  Being honest with everyone around you, may not work in your best interest.

                  Telling your boss he or she is an asshole may mean you can’t support your house or rent.

                  Besides most people don’t want you to be honest with them anyways. I reserve my honest opinion for those worthy and allow the ignorant to stay in the dark where they can willingly mock from afar.

                  Is there something wrong with ego? :)

                  1. crow says:

                    You tell me.
                    Don’t you know?
                    I see it like this:
                    Ego is the idiot fake that masquerades as ‘you’.
                    ‘You’ is the idiot that lets it.

                    1. Sun says:

                      I used to believe that as many in the Vairāgya camp do.

                      I now see it differently.

                  2. Esotericist says:

                    “Asshole” is a human judgment. Truth is something else.

            2. Gracie says:

              Actually, yes. As willing as I am to do things and learn how to do new things there are some things I won’t do. I also let her know when I’m not willing to take on any other responsibility without releasing something somewhere else. My boss actually appreciates it because she knows that when I say I’ll do something I’ll get it done, and that I’m not just trying to make her feel good. Honesty works.

              Tact is nice, in some cases, like at funerals, but the more conversations I have with people the less and less tactful I want to be. I don’t want to spend my time making people feel warm and fuzzy because of hollow words. I rather them burn with passion, even if it is a disagreement and they end up disliking me.

              1. Sun says:

                Well then, at least you understand that life isn’t so black and white, and you are able discern the appropriate time to for different responses.

                Then my role in this conversation is done.

              2. Esotericist says:

                Tact and politeness can mean telling people that it’s not personal, letting them know what you need from them and pushing them toward it, then saying something nice about the hat they’re wearing. The real skill of politeness is being able to communicate disagreement or hard realities without forcing the person to feel bad about themselves. This includes misfortune. “I’m sorry, but I have to kill you now, because it’s my job,” is gentler than telling someone they are bad and horrible and that any sensible man would put them down like a mentally retarded rabid dog.

                1. crow says:

                  Beautifully put.
                  Only maturity would enable one to say it that way.

                2. Ted Swanson says:

                  “I’m sorry, but I have to kill you…nice hat by the way!”

        3. A. Realist says:

          “Would you care to be honest with your boss, crow?”

          About what?

          Whether his hair is thinning enough that others can notice? No. No. Hell, no.

          Whether I’m happy in my employment, doing good work, or bored and dissatisfied? Yes. Sure would. Any time it came up.

          After you’ve had enough jobs, you realize that the situation really is a yes/no question. You’re either in the right place or not. If you’re not in the right place, you’re missing out on the possibility of being in the right place. Sucks to be you then.

          1. Sun says:

            True. But being in the moment allows us to cultivate more of what is happening around us.

          2. Esotericist says:

            Even with the baldness, I would not mislead. He will turn on you when he discovers the truth.

  4. Ted Swanson says:

    It speaks of the modern mindset, that brutal becomes equated with honesty.

    A shrewd observation. I get a kick when the most innocuous things, like our every day chit-chat, reveals a less-than-innocuous reality.

    1. A. Realist says:

      There’s a lot of backward motion like that. We say “brutal honesty,” and the assembled bonobos translate that to “brutal = honest.” Then when you ask for the truth, they start describing its brutal details.

    2. Esotericist says:

      Modern society is a giant reality denial party, except every generation when it blows up into war, recession or disease. Reality pokes its nose into the tent and everyone shrinks away.

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