This I Believe

Scott - New Kensington, Pennsylvania
Entered on April 21, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: integrity

There are many virtues that people choose to live by. I have chosen to adopt a value held by my father because I recognize its positive impact on his character and on his quality of life. “Pops” is a huge advocate of honesty, and my parents modeled this value to me as a small child. Pops refuses to lie, regardless of its purpose or magnitude. Even those little “white lies” that seem commonly accepted among ethical people don’t entice my father. He truly believes that honesty is the best policy, no matter what the short-term consequences may be. One time he found out that I had fibbed to my soccer coach in order to get out of practice. This backfired when Pops made me attend the practice late and explain to the coach that I had no excuse for skipping practice that day. My coach punished me with some excruciating drills, but the lesson I learned came from my father’s persistence in what he believed. He taught me that it is better to face the truth right now than to have to deal with the mess that results from lying.

I have also seen the flip side of this philosophy. A friend of mine, who I will call Spider, mastered the art of lying at a young age. I remember watching him with admiration as he forged his parents’ signatures in junior high school. It’s not that I found cheating to be cool, but his ability to deceive respectable adults was definitely a neat attribute. Spider was intelligent, athletic, and popular, but his lies began to overshadow his talents. His friends no longer knew when he was telling the truth. His lies blossomed into contrived stories that involved intricate and imaginative details. His sad tale ends unpleasantly, however, as he was caught cheating and stealing in high school. The consequences were enough to complicate his future, unfolding a path of question marks ahead of him. Another lesson learned.

As a college student, I have gained an even greater appreciation for an honest lifestyle. Untrustworthy people are hard to handle on any level. It is complicated to maintain friendships with those that are dishonest, and group-work can be even more difficult. Dishonesty can have dire consequences in the workplace as well, from losing a job to serving some jail time. I suspect that these ideas will confirm my perception of honesty as I finish my studies and begin my career.

Living a life of honesty is not easy. You have to be true to others, and also to yourself. I often evaluate my life—my shortcomings and triumphs—and try to find the sources of each. I am no angel, and I have told several lies—both big and small—throughout my life. I can say with confidence, though, that I strive to be truthful to others and to myself.