Putting an adage from primary school as a title to this blog is probably enough to merit less or no attention at all. You might dismiss it, knowing the subject all too well like a fellow maxim that stands at the cleaning corner of our primary school rooms, in bold letters and all glory ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness.’
However, I believe to the wisdom that early childhood education holds, albeit not reading Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten yet. I believe that we don’t need long and complicated rules to return to peace and order. Specifically, I believe in the power of honesty.
Honesty is gold
In a seemingly era of fake news and with the rampant use of Instagram stories that both mislead and pretend, finding honesty whether in your neighborhood or your own backyard is gold.
Now don’t go too hard on me for saying such things about Instagram stories. I don’t mean to say that all of us who use IG and FB stories are pretentious. What I try to point out is that these platforms sometimes get the better of us and shove us into showing inaccurate details of our imperfect lives. It gets us so occupied with how we are going to present ourselves and our lives well that we forget to live and be present at the moment. It makes us want to be watched, but are we really seen?
Honesty – that raw emotion or unadulterated expression or sincere opinion is rarely met, given or accepted.
Honesty is the value that thugs in our hearts whenever we are confronted with ugly feelings and truths that beg our attention. But we are too afraid at times to face them. Instead of confronting them, we forego our chances to speak up or let go of that friendship we’ve been holding onto for so long or endure watching injustice right in front our nose or be the better versions of ourselves.
Honesty is the value our friends and family demand whenever they seek our opinion from trivial matters like wardrobe to crucial subjects like politics. However sometimes, we are too afraid to tell the truth, that you’d prefer skirts and trousers for skinny Aunt Susan because her leggings just doesn’t work. We are too coward to stand up for a politician who has integrity and competence because hey, today’s prevalent opinion is this – ‘what the country needs is a shit-full of mouth to scare away law offenders.’
As we drown in a pool of fake news, information and stories, we oftentimes find ourselves clueless on what to believe. We overthink or not think at all, we romanticize or generalize, we give up or we wait for truth to come out. It is tiring and seems never ending.
But there is hope, there is something we can do. In the midst of lies, we can establish truth as our currency through honesty.
Ugly but Necessary
Honesty will be unpleasant but necessary. It can be the hard pill to swallow or the nightmare that you’ve been praying not to have each night. I actually thought of labeling it as ‘gentle honesty,’ but gentle may mean sugarcoating a truth to make it sound more appealing which destroys our purpose all together. So let us all agree to call it plain honesty.
Honesty can be brutal, but it will build us as a person. It can walk us through the dark alleys of our hearts and reveal who we really are. It will tell us what needs mending and changing. It will disturb our self-image but will eventually restore our truest form and make us brave to accept and love the person we find.
When we allow honesty to make and build us up, we also build our relationships and eventually we build our society on the foundation of truth.
So I’ll always hold on to this primary school wisdom, honesty is the best policy.
Last April, I dare not say I invented, but I started ‘Honesty Date’ with a friend in the office. It’s a no-holds-barred conversation over coffee which allowed openness. It was liberating having someone know about your circumstance and at the same time see the other person as s/he is.
Find a friend/family whom you can be all honest with especially on your thoughts and feelings. It is what helps me grow as a person. If you found him/her already, good! If you haven’t found the person yet, pray for it and be expectant to receive it. The teacher comes when the student is ready.