Friday, June 05, 2009

Honesty is the Best Policy

Over the past few weeks many British politicians in the House of Commons have had to own up to their moral corruption because although in their own words they had not ‘broken the rules’ they were found wanting by judge and jury - those whom they were appointed to serve - the British public. These politicians who had lost their sense of proportion and lacked self-discipline by spending lavishly on themselves by means of the expenses system brought shame upon themselves and the institution they represent. In so doing they lost the trust of their constituents who now look upon them with disdain. All this came at a time when local and European elections were about to take place. Only today, the Prime Minister shuffled what remained of his Cabinet after embarrassing resignations and he hurriedly plugged the gaps with those he could find who were untarnished from shameful behaviour. Did we ever expect to find what some may equate to corruption at the very heart of Government, the cradle of democracy? How does this bode for our future in the Global Village where trust and honesty are vital ingredients for leadership?

Thomas Jefferson said, "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." Honesty is, according to the dictionary, to be free of deceit; to be sincere; truthful, trustworthy; wholehearted and worthy. William Shakespeare wrote, "Honesty is the best policy. If I lose mine honour, I lose myself." These are definitive sayings that not only our politicians should take note of, but in humble truth all of us should consider them. None of us can claim to live wholly by a policy of honesty. For further clarification and understanding we need to outline the meaning of ‘a policy’. According to one online dictionary it is, ‘A deliberate course, guiding principle or procedure considered expedient, prudent or advantageous.’ Therefore, if we are to adopt the slogan, ‘Honesty is the best policy’ we need to be clear about what we want to achieve by being honest. Here I think William, the supreme Bard, is spot on; he makes it clear that it is to do with ‘honour’. The Right Honourable Gentlemen of the Commons had forgotten about their honour, their trustworthiness, their integrity, and Spencer Johnson like William Tell hit the mark when he said, “Integrity is telling myself the truth, and honesty is telling the truth to other people."
What do we want to achieve by being honest? I suggest the answer is self-discovery; the true revelation of who we are; the kernel of our very being. If we can’t be truthful to ourselves, how can we be honest before others? Such honesty can bring contentment and peace of mind, despite the opposition and difficulties we may find in bringing it about. The path of honesty is not smooth, neither is it straight because of obstacles along the way, but it is a path well worth pursuing for the rewards to self and to others.

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