This I Believe

Judy - San Francisco, California
Entered on November 28, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: integrity

I believe that honesty is the best policy. Being honest may not necessarily gain you many great friendships, but it will gain you respect. It also doesn’t mean that you have to lay down the brutal truth all the time, but in general, leading an honest life would be most beneficial.

It was a hard lesson learned at the age of ten that got me started on this philosophy. I grew up in a very old-fashioned and strict family. My parents didn’t believe in giving allowance and I didn’t have the latest toy that every other kid had. My parents worked a lot and my grandmother who lived with us was the one who basically raised me. My grandmother did not believe in depositing all of her life savings into the bank and so she kept certain amounts of money stashed in various places at home. She knew that I felt left out at school and my increasing bitterness prompted her to provide me with an additional amount of lunch money. It was the sweetest thing that my grandmother could ever do for me and unfortunately, I began to take advantage of it. Without the consent of my grandmother, I started helping myself to the money jar. When she would question me about the decrease in the amount, I would lie and act as if I didn’t know what she was talking about. I would go into it often, until finally my grandmother confronted me. I remember vividly the expression on her face. It was clear that I truly hurt her. I felt horrible and didn’t know what to say or do. I offered endless apologies and promised that I would never be dishonest to her again. She forgave me and continued to provide me with lunch money.

Call me cynical, but I have more often than not, questioned the honesty of others, especially after working in the world of sales. I understand that working on a commission can be very difficult at times and create dishonest dealings with clients. That’s exactly what it came down to with one Realtor I once knew. This agent’s main concern was to make money, as this is the case for many trying to make a living in real estate. But, for this agent, it didn’t matter how or what needed to be done, as long as the transaction was completed and the commission checks were processed.

With one particular transaction of his, he couldn’t have asked for more. He landed a million dollar deal in representing both the buyer and seller. During the initial inspection of the house, he discovered in the garage a crack in the cement. When he staged the house, he intentionally covered the crack with an oil pan, obviously, not planning to disclose to any potential buyer. During the final walk through, the buyers decide to move the oil pan, and discovered the crack. Because of this, the buyers immediately withdrew from the sale and the sellers being beyond upset with his deceit, let the agent go. The agent ended up not only losing out on this transaction, but gaining a bad reputation both inside and outside of the office. Not long after, he quit the business and moved onto something else. I could only hope it was on to something that brought out the more honest side to him.

An area where I would assume most people would question honesty is when they are involved in an intimate relationship – this is where honesty plays a big role. I’ve always found it funny when people ask for honesty, but are disappointed once they get it. I have to admit that I’ve been guilty of this as well, especially where infidelity is the concern. This is when I want brutal honesty. I would rather go through the brief moment of painful truth than to be led on or cling to some sort of false hope. I have been involved in a relationship where it was built up on lies and had to find out the truth on my own. To me, you have some sort of added leniency if the person were to come clean on his or her own. The feelings of anger, betrayal, mistrust is still there, but for some reason the degree is less than if you were to find the truth from another source. And this is where I try my best to stand by my philosophy. Besides, lying takes much more effort than being honest.

You can’t ever predict the outcome of when you decide to be honest with someone or how you will react to someone being honest with you. Let’s face it, most of us have been lied to and all have wondered why the truth couldn’t have been told. Yes, sometimes the truth can hurt, but that only makes us stronger as individuals. And this is why I do believe that honesty is still the best policy.