Midweek Musings: Thoughts on Honesty

Quick question: are you honest? Do you consider yourself to be an honest person? If so, to what degree would you claim: brutal, passive-aggressive, “nicey-nice,” barely tactful, or do you stretch the truth as far as you can, not even trying for the supposedly acceptable “little white lie?”

I ask this because I’ve been questioning the honesty of a few people with whom I’ve spoken recently, and wondered what motivates them to deceive others. It would be easy to just slap an unfavourable label on them and ignore their actions, but I’m genuinely curious – why the ulterior motives? As a person who is honest to a fault, it never crosses my mind to deliberately deceive another person. Do I keep some people at arm’s length? Sure. It’s a necessity. Do I lie to them? No. If dishonest people ask me a question, however, I will give an answer that is designed to shut them up, or at least give them a clue that I have no time for them. In that respect, it is very obvious when a person does the same thing to me! Usually, though, people tell me to shove off because I’m TOO honest and think that I’m Cruella De Vil or something. I think that some people don’t know what real cruelty looks like, or have a very subjective opinion or definition of it!

For example, say that a person asks me about an outfit that they’re wearing. I might say, “I’m not crazy about the colour; then again, I can’t wear that shade of green – it looks fantastic on you, though! That cut and style are awesome – hey, where did you buy it?” Where was the cruelty or tactlessness in that answer? By stating that I can’t wear the same hue as they? Seems to me that being mean would be saying, “The colour sucks, so the whole thing is a steaming heap of crap…return it and get your money back, quickly!” Or, barely glance at them and say, “Nice, looks good. Ready to go grab some grub?”

Going overboard with compliments isn’t my style; if I give someone a compliment, it is meant to be genuine. Some people can’t take compliments very well, if at all – again, I can relate to that. Accepting a compliment is admittedly difficult, but I take them at face value, say “thank you,” and go on about my day. Now, some compliments are thinly-veiled insults, and most people are astute enough to recognize those. Some ignore the insult. I’m one who will notice and say something; sometimes, I’ll volley it right back if I’m in a mood to do so. Most times, though, it isn’t worth being petty.

I like getting to know people, believe it or not. That’s why I have an ‘Open Comment’ page on my blog – it’s an attempt to engage people in conversations. That’s why I brave crowded places like concerts, conventions, or sports events from time to time. It’s my way of seeking out like-minded people to talk about things that we mutually enjoy. That’s why I read the ‘About’ pages of the blogs that I follow: to get a sense of the person behind the blog and see if it matches what they talk or write about. It’s the curse of having an inquisitive mind, I suppose. I analyse things constantly, picking them apart in my brain and laying them out. Then I pick up each piece, turning it over and over, examining it from every angle before re-assembling them and looking at the whole picture again. I do the same with people, sometimes.

This brings me back to the question I posed at the beginning of this post: Are you honest? If so, to what degree? If not, why not? What motivates you to deceive others, short of having some psychological disorder? These are questions that I’ve wanted to ask many different people over the years. Even though there’s no chance of these questions being answered now, just as there was no chance of them being answered at the times I considered asking them initially, I’ll still post them. Today was as good a day as any to dump out some dusty, old thoughts!

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