Honesty. It’s what everyone says they want. Go ahead. Ask them. Ask yourself.
But when it comes right down to it, a lot of people can’t handle honesty. Take a good, long look at yourself, at your life, and tell me if you’re completely honest. You’re not. Neither am I (just in case you think I’m being judgmental). We tell lies all the time. From little white lies to big whoppers. We even tell them without realizing it.
Those lies are generally told to make ourselves look better: “I was late because of traffic.”
Well, if you know traffic is bad that time of day, leave a little earlier. Yes, there are times when traffic is way worse than you expected. Maybe there was an accident. That always ties things up to no end. I’m not saying everything is your fault. But I’d bet more of it is than you’d like to admit. I know it is for me.
Usually, we’re late because we didn’t leave early enough.
That’s just one example, though. There are others.
“I wasn’t able to write much on my book this week because things got in the way (and I spent more time than I should have playing video games).”
“I’m not going to be able to come over and see you after all because I let housework pile up (from spending too much time playing games—on Facebook).”
But these are, relatively speaking, trivial things. Yeah, you’re disappointing someone, and that’s not good. But life is full of disappointment, and if you don’t get used to it real quick, you’re gonna be in really bad shape.
There are other, deeper lies we tell ourselves—and, after all, we lie more to ourselves than we do others. And we’re the easiest person to lie to, so we get away with it far more often than we do lying to others.
I see it online a lot. Someone takes exception to what someone else says, especially if it’s a celebrity/politician we don’t like. I’m just enough of a curmudgeon these days to try and call people on it, and they don’t like it. This is where I see people who really don’t want honesty as much as they claim.
A recent example would be the hullabaloo over something Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty said at a prayer breakfast. Of course, this isn’t the first time Phil’s said something the public hasn’t agreed with, but maybe this one is a bit more egregious than some others. He was apparently trying to illustrate what happens when you don’t follow God’s laws, and used the example of some criminal element breaking into the home of an atheist family, raping the daughters and mother and killing all of them, all the while spouting doggerel about how it can’t be wrong because, as atheists, the don’t recognize right and wrong the way good Christians do, and people took exception to the example Phil used.
Now, on one level, I can agree with them. Phil’s example, at best, is naïve, to say the least. Atheists—most of them, anyway—have a moral code every bit as stringent as Phil Robertson’s. The vast majority of them believe they only have this life, while they’re alive, to get it right. There’s no blood of Jesus to wash their sins away. They are one hundred percent accountable for their actions.
Now, I happen to find many atheists far too condescending of anyone who believes there is an afterlife or any kind of spiritual dimension to life. They look down on such believers as naïve children, and they’re not a bit above letting them know that. They’re generally—at least most of the ones I’ve come across—somewhat insufferable and smug in their positions. They want everyone to be respectful of their beliefs—and they are beliefs, because you can’t prove a negative—but they can’t quite seem to drudge up respect for anyone who’s spiritual.
Either way, Phil Robertson’s statements showed his ignorance. But what most folks seemed to take exception to was his rather graphic example, and I have to admit that it was more extreme than was needed. But when one poster compared fundamentalists like Robertson to members of ISIS, I had to bite my tongue. Robertson’s example was graphic, I’ll admit, but—and here’s the important part—it was hypothetical.
That means it didn’t really happen.
That means it’s no different from me writing about a similar incident in one of my crime novels.
And, I’m sorry, but I know lots of fundamentalist Christians, and I have yet to see one of them post a beheading video while wearing a mask. I have yet to see a group of them burn children or enemy pilots alive in a cage in order to make an example out of them.
The online community—and the very biased mainstream media—has created this image of Christians that doesn’t really exist outside of Westboro Baptist Church and their ilk. And most fundamentalists I know disapprove of the actions WBC undertakes. We hear people from all over the world protesting that the actions of a few Muslims like ISIS don’t represent the faith as a whole, and yet we’re ready and willing to jump all over Christians as a whole because of idiots like Phil Robertson and WBC.
That’s not honesty.
One of the worst forms of dishonesty, as far as I’m concerned.
Being honest with yourself is hard. I know. I’ve been telling myself for a long time now that, yes, I’m overweight, but it’s not that bad. I carry it well. It’s mostly my belly.
And then I saw a picture of myself sitting in a chair at the OWL conference back in February. It’s at one of the keynote sessions, and I happen to be looking at my phone for some reason. The simple truth is, I look awful. I’m this blob sitting in a folding chair, thinking he’s not that bad off.
It was a wake-up call for me, that’s for sure, and I’ve been hitting my stationary bike and weights very regularly since. Besides the health risks, there’s the simple fact that I’ve been telling myself all along I wasn’t that bad, when in fact I was, and knew it, and wouldn’t admit it.
The problem, I think, with honesty, is that it means you have to take responsibility. Owning up to being fat wasn’t easy for me, and still isn’t. I still want to tell myself that I’m not that bad off, that it’s just my belly hanging out more than it should.
But if I really want to see how out of shape I’ve let myself become, all I have to do is remember what I was like when I went in the Army. Granted, at almost fifty years old, none of us is what we were at eighteen. But I stood the same height I do now and weighed 170 pounds. Where now I weigh over 300.
It’s horrible, is what it is. And I have to face up to that and do something about it. And I am. Probably not enough, and I really need to make more money in order to do it. The sad fact of the matter is it costs more to eat healthy, and that’s no lie. If you think it is, next time you’re in a store, compare the price of a Snickers to the price of a health food bar. Generally speaking, the healthy alternative is well over a dollar higher.
But I’m sure there are things I can do even within my meager budget (and believe me, it’s very meager indeed). I just need to research them. Somehow.
I don’t claim a perfect record here, but I at least try to be honest with everyone. And when you do that, you really see how people don’t want honesty as much as they claim. I’ve had people get mad at me and not talk to me because I was honest with them about something. One individual unfriended me on FB because I got tired of him trying to make me drink the Kool-Aid of his particular brand of political belief—which he claimed was true conservative but was a far cry from it—and told him he’d never win me over and he should stop trying. No great loss, really. I also had someone comment on this very blog, saying I’d screwed up in my post on internet illiteracy by using the word than when I should have used then. I admitted to the mistake, but that wasn’t good enough. This person stated there’s no way you can make a typo like that because the a is nowhere near the e on the keyboard. I replied that I never claimed to make a typo, but a mistake that I missed on proofreading, and then went on to tell this person that if he (or she; they commented under a username rather than their real name) didn’t believe me or like my answer, that was his problem.
No answer to that.
But I like to live my life by what I believe Mark Twain said: if you always tell the truth, you never have to remember anything.
I can’t help it if people don’t like honesty. I have no answer to the dilemma.
But honestly? I’d like more honesty if you’re dealing with me. And I promise not to unfriend you for it.