1. The quality or condition of being honest; integrity.
2. Truthfulness; sincerity: in all honesty.


George Washington, the General who drove back the English and who became the first President of the United States once said, "I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man."

Honesty, though a seemingly straight forward act, is unfortunately lacking in this day and age. Whereas in the past honesty was a testament to one's character, today it's sometimes seen as an impossible goal only sought after by people who we already describe as "honest". Unfortunately, it seems honesty these days is as F. M. Hubbard once said, "Honesty pays, but it doesn't seem to pay enough to suit some people."

What value is honesty given to the world 24/7?

For one thing, always keeping to the narrow path of honesty makes things simpler for oneself. Mark Twain, in his often jovial manner, once said, "If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything." In a day an age where we're bombarded with information overload, doesn't honesty make sense?

Then again, Twain also wrote, "I am different from Washington; I have a higher, grander standard of principle. Washington could not lie. I can lie, but I won't."

Now that's character.

What about white lies, half truths, or simply keeping our mouths shut?

"Those who think it is permissible to tell white lies soon grow color-blind." - Ausin O'Malley

"The cruelest lies are often told in silence." - Adlai Stevenson

Trust me on this one.

I've always been confused why so many mix honesty with confrontation and don't see its purpose. "Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress," wrote Mahatma Gandhi. In this life honesty is necessary to build the things we all desire: trust, hope, friendship.

We all desire trust, hope, and friendship...

The truth is, "Some people will not tolerate such emotional honesty in communication. They would rather defend their dishonesty on the grounds that it might hurt others. Therefore, having rationalized their phoniness into nobility, they settle for superficial relationships."

For this little conundrum see Acceptance, Compassion, Compromise, Courage, Empathy, Fearlessness, Forgiveness, Integrity, Love, Strength, Suffering, and Truth--though I can honesty say that those not truly secure with themselves will crucify you regardless of how caring and patient you are with them.

So tell the truth. Always. And do if for yourself, if not for anyone else. "We tell lies when we are afraid," said Tad Williams, "afraid of what we don't know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie," he continues, "the thing that we fear grows stronger."

Or if that doesn't work for you take the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson into account:

"Be Silly. Be honest. Be kind."