Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

December 23, 2013

Community of Character: Honesty is the best policy

By Louise Gorenflo
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — Honesty is clearly seeing things as they are and telling the truth with our words and actions. Self-honesty is integrity, being true to one’s own values and having the courage to clearly know the consequences of our behavior.

Honest people earn the trust of others. When we stick to the truth, no matter how uncomfortable that makes us feel, we are less confused about our life. By taking responsibility for the mistakes we make, we protect innocent people from being falsely accused. 

When we have integrity, we see ourselves and our community as they actually are. Often we use all kinds of defense mechanisms to avoid knowing ourselves and our situation: denial, blaming and rationalizations. When we can cut through all of these, then it is possible to identify and solve the actual problems that trouble us. Only people, families and communities of strong character have the courage to clearly see life as it is and the willingness to work diligently to reduce their own and others suffering.

Honesty can be practiced many ways. Let me list some of them:

• Keeping promises by doing what we say we will do.

• Admitting our mistakes and taking responsibility for them.

• Keeping our words close to the underlying facts and not embellishing what happened to put us in a better light.

• Resisting temptations to lie, cheat and steal.

• Returning property lost by others.

• Not spreading rumors.

• Standing up for what is right even when others pressure us to do otherwise. • Silence is complicity.

• Being truthful even when it costs us more if we had lied.

• Avoiding exaggerations.

• Avoiding hypocrisy by practicing what we preach.

Here is a "white lie" test you can use next time you are tempted to hide the truth from someone. When you lie to someone “for their own good,” would they thank you for caring or feel betrayed if they found out that you lied? Would you want others to tell you the truth, or would you want them to lie to you if they thought it was for your own good?

Honesty is the Community of Character civic virtue for January. Community of Character enhances the school’s ongoing effort by emphasizing within the community the same character trait students learn about in school. When children live in a community that focuses upon the same core values that they learn in school, their understanding of character development will deepen. When adults engage in exploring core values within the community, the connections of character development with ordinary family and civic life will grow. 

May you find what I have presented interesting and something you can use in your life. I invite you to email me your thoughts (lgorenflo@gmail.com).