I utilize many values in my daily life; one that I hold in high regard is honesty. An incident that occurred 42 years ago, when I was in second grade, is the foundation of my belief in always telling the truth.
After morning recess, a bell rang alerting us to form a line to go back into class. A classmate and I arrived simultaneously, and we started shoving each other, disagreeing over who got there first. My neighbor, who was directly in front of us, kept turning to look at us as we walked toward the school building. When we were almost to the entrance, she accidentally turned into the wall breaking her prescription eyeglasses.
She started sobbing loudly, and I immediately understood why. Knowing her father, I knew he would beat her after he learned he had to buy her a new pair of glasses. I was stunned when she told the teacher that we had pushed her into the wall. I started to object, but the look the teacher gave me indicated we were in a lot of trouble. As she walked back into class, she told us to wait for her in the hallway.
As I stood waiting, I recalled a prior incident involving broken eyeglasses. I remembered how a classmate received a severe paddling until he admitted to breaking another classmate’s eyeglasses. I will never forget the sound of the paddle as it struck him or the pained look on his face. I immediately turned to my classmate and told her that I wasn’t getting paddled for something I didn’t do. I was going to tell the teacher I had pushed my neighbor, and would then tell my parents the truth. My classmate started crying; telling me her parents would punish her if she did that. I reassured her and told her I would ask my parents to talk to her parents.
Our teacher returned, holding a large paddle in her hand. She approached me and asked me how my neighbor’s eyeglasses had broken. Without hesitation I told the teacher I had pushed her. Even though this wasn’t the truth, it was the truth as far as the teacher was concerned and she wouldn’t have to beat it out of us. She wasn’t expecting us to be “honest”, and with a suspicious look, told us that she would be notifying our parents.
When I got home that afternoon, I found my parents waiting for me. As my parents had always told me to tell the truth, that’s precisely what I did. I remember telling them exactly what had happened, including the fact that the only reason I admitted fault, was because I didn’t want the teacher to repeatedly paddle me. Not only did my parents believe me, but they also went to my classmate’s parents and explained the situation. Both parents agreed to split the cost of the eyeglasses, and only gave us extra chores as punishment.
I never doubted that my parents would believe me, as long as I told the truth. I also knew in my heart that we hadn’t done anything, and that my neighbor had only blamed us so she wouldn’t get in trouble. I can still recollect the feeling that came over me when I was completely honest. It is the same feeling that I still get when I am honest. While I could suffer consequences for my actions, I have found that I’m always treated fairly when I tell the truth. This I do believe and honesty is a value that I continue to use in my daily life.