Honesty always rings true

September 1, 2010 -  By

Remember what it was like to possess unbridled honesty? For many of us adults, it’s been decades.

Unbridled honesty is what made “Liar, Liar” — the 1997 comedy in which Jim Carrey played an attorney who can’t help but speak his mind and tell the truth at every turn —
so appealing at the box office.

On a daily basis, I get a whiff of that pure-white honesty children seem to innately possess, thanks to our three children, our 25 nieces and nephews and my 10 godchildren.

We adults could learn a lesson or two about rigorous honesty from these little ones. Complete honesty not only is the easy way; it’s the only way.

Our day-to-day dealings and long-term relationships with co-workers, customers, the public and our families and friends, hinge on honesty. Fortunately, honesty is pretty straightforward: Is it true or false?

Having said that, in practicing honesty sometimes there’s a golden mean — that perfect spot somewhere in-between a child’s penchant to be brutally honest (where, in some cases, a taming of the tongue would be advisable) and that point to which many of us adults seem to have “progressed” — where too much is muddied or buried for myriad “reasons” (also known as rationalizations).

Political correctness aside, children’s penchant to freely speak their minds often yields refreshing, humorous “big picture” honesty:

It’s All About Perspective — A few years ago, Bridgid was cuddling with our ever-lovable son, Jamie, who happens to have Down syndrome. Holding Jamie, and worried about serious medical tests our precious angel was set to receive the next morning, Bridgid told him: “When I was student teaching in college, I worked with some beautiful children who had Down syndrome, and Dad and I said to each other way back then, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to adopt a kid with Down’s?’ … And then God gave us you years later.” Jamie’s eyes lit up. He grinned ear to ear and asked, “You mean I was your dream come true, Mom?”

Laughter: Medicine Without a Co-Pay — Bridgid shared the above story with me that day, when I got home from work. After hearing the touching tale, I looked at Jamie and tried to humorously change the gravity of the conversation: “Let me get this straight. You were hugging and kissing my wife? What were you thinking?” Jamie’s little body shook with laughter as he quipped, “That was my dream come true, Dad.”

Lord of the Rings — I recently attended a grade school reunion (St. Mark, Class of 1980), where my wife discovered I’d previously proposed to five other women. Luckily, I was in the first grade when I was handing out rings. I’ll never forget my dad asking me about the five plastic companion rings I was wearing and then grinning impishly — and cautiously — as he looked at Mom and asked, “Why on Earth would anyone want five wives?”

Having five wives is like having five different stories. It’s best to be married to one story — the truth — at work and at home. Absolute honesty is the goal;
we claim progress, but seek perfection.

This article is tagged with , and posted in Editor's Note, September 2010

About the Author:

Marty Whitford is an award-winning journalist and editorial leader at North Coast Media. He is publisher of Landscape Management's sister magazine, Pest Management Professional. He's a graduate of Kent State University’s School of Journalism & Mass Communication and he served a four-year stint in the U.S. Navy.

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