“I hope 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.’” – George Washington
When I think of honesty, very often the fable about George Washington chopping down his father’s cherry tree comes into my mind. When asked about it, he cried, “I cannot tell a lie, father, you know I cannot tell a lie! I did cut it with my little hatchet.”
The anger died out of his father’s face, and taking the boy tenderly in his arms, he said, “My son, that you should not be afraid to tell the truth is more to me than a thousand trees!…”
However, there is no evidence that this ever occurred. This was part of a book of mythic stories authored by Mason Weems that made Washington a legendary figure beyond his wartime and presidential achievements.
I believe that most of us have lied in one way or another. In fact according to Dr. Gail Saltz, she believes that everybody lies. It may only be “white” lies, but everyone tells lies or “omits the truth” sometimes. Why do people lie? Dr. Gail said, “They lie to protect themselves, look good, gain financially or socially and avoid punishment.” Of course these are not the only reasons.
Whatever the reasons behind the lie, could one ever justify a lie that he/she made? Maybe it would be more acceptable when it was a “white” lie. Then again, “how can we make sure that people don’t abuse the uses of “white” lie?”
University of Massachusetts psychologist Robert Feldman said, “Anything that is not accurate is a lie. You can argue that a lie done to make someone else feel better is relatively minor. But they have an effect. The bottom line is that a lie is a lie.”
Although he did mention that it is socially useful to tell lies, I believe that in the end we always have the power to choose to tell the truth. As what Mark Twain said, “I can lie, but I won’t.” I hope that I will be strong to choose the truth at all time.
I have always reminded myself that lie is like a thrown boomerang, it will fly back to you … eventually. However, if I choose to speak the truth always, I don’t have to remember anything; I don’t have to worry about the snowballing effect that comes with continuous lying.
Randy Pausch author of The Last Lecture said, “Most people who have told a lie think they got away with it … when in fact, they didn’t.” One could have lied and fooled the whole world, but when one faced the mirror, one couldn’t lie or fool the one within. So I believe that Honesty is the best policy. Do you?