Honesty has played a key role in my success in life. Throughout my childhood my parents would always remind me about the importance of being honest. In their opinion nothing was as important as having self-respect and being trustworthy. The saying “honesty is the best policy” perfectly sums up my belief about how people should interact with each other. For me, being honest in everything I do can be a very difficult thing, but I have found that as I follow this basic principle my life has become better for it.
Growing up in my home as a child, I was surrounded by honesty and integrity. I assumed that the world was a great place where all people genuinely cared for each other’s well-being and feelings. As I entered middle school I was awakened to what this world was really all about. I discovered the widespread epidemic of cheating on tests to achieve better grades, stealing from others as a predominant way of getting something that you wanted, and all sorts of other cunning and deceiving activities. These abominable actions led me to the horrifying reality that most people were out to help themselves through dishonest means and had little regard for the impact it had on others. My assumption that everyone would be honest with their fellow man was severely skewed due to the rich and wholesome environment I had grown up in.
Though I firmly believe in the principle of honesty I have not been perfect myself. Whether stealing a dollar from my brother’s piggy bank here and there, or telling a fib to my parents, I, like virtually every other imperfect human, have been dishonest. As a youngster my parents would take a large wooden cooking spoon and spank me with it whenever I told a lie. This punishment quickly and effectively taught me how important trustworthiness was to them, over time this created a desire within me to always be honest for myself.
Being dishonest in everyday life can have extremely damaging effects on relationships with others and personal self-esteem. When dishonesty becomes a prominent part of life it can feel like everything we do is a lie. This feeling of helplessness can be caused by just an insignificant little fib, which over time can become a massive weight that we hold on our shoulders. This massive weight comes from lying about a lie which leads to another lie about that lie, although the wording maybe confusing this concept of trying to hide our lie with another lie can grow until a small fib has become a large fabrication that we struggle to hide. Being honest can be very hard when it seems that lying is the easiest and most profitable action. Take Bernard Madoff as an example, a previously well-respected and honest businessman. Madoff found that the legitimate and legal ways of doing business didn’t pay as well as being an untrustworthy and mendacious criminal. For 48 years he eluded the truth about his ponzi scheme until it finally caught up with him. Honesty trumped his cunning and destructive lies that cost thousands of people their entire savings. Now he spends his leisure time behind bars rather than in is million dollar beachfront mansions. From this extreme factual example of a crafty lie one might infer that all crooks that act dishonestly are caught and receive justice, but the sad fact is that most don’t.
Many dishonest, self-centered, and egotistical human beings walk free amongst us everyday. This rather blunt and startling statement doesn’t just apply to felons and convicts who cheat innocent people of their possessions for their own gain. This very statement can be applied to myself as well as most other people, for when you lie you are truly showing how selfish and insecure you are. Yes some situations require that one must lie in order to protect their possessions or even their life, but these exceptions to the rule are very rare.
Throughout my life my honesty with others has paid big dividends even when it was extremely difficult to do so. A minor example of this was when I was taking Algebra 2 in high school. After one of the tests I realized that my teacher had given me one too many points on my test. I respectfully pointed out her error and she was so awestruck with my honest behavior that she gave me 100% on the test! Another example of how honesty has been beneficial in my life is when I decided to play a practical joke on a fellow student in the fourth grade and avoided being suspended. Before class was about to start one day I managed to sneak up to the front row and slip a remote-controlled fart machine into a student’s backpack without him noticing. With this done I proceeded back to my seat in the back row with the remote clutched tightly in my hand.
Approximately halfway through the teachers lecture I decided to let it “rip”. The sound reverberated through the classroom as every pair of eyes in the room slammed into the back of the student’s head. This quiet student was so embarrassed and scared I thought he was about to cry. From the back of the room I could tell he was totally humiliated because his ears turned a bright pink and he hid his face in his arms trying to avoid the menacing eyes that surrounded him. Soon after this interruption the teacher proceeded with his lesson. As soon as the teacher got to a breaking point I let the machine loose again. This time the “noise” was a super dirty one and the student ran out of the classroom completely mortified that someone would stage such a horrible prank on him. The teacher followed him out and five minutes later returned with steam streaming out his ears. He knew that someone in the class had controlled the noise and he wanted to know who it was that second or the culprit would be suspended for 2 weeks. Very uneasily I stood and confessed my mischievous deed and asked for forgiveness. Shortly after apologizing to the student and the teacher I was spared suspension and returned to my seat with a great feeling because I had done the right thing. I found that when I did the right thing in this story I felt tremendously better than when I had lied to my parents or stolen money from my brothers.
In my opinion as time has passed the ethics of society have slowly deteriorated. Honesty has become portrayed as a principle of the past and that it no longer applies to people now. From the false get rich quick schemes that litter the Internet to husbands and wives cheating on each other and denying all wrongdoing. Dishonesty surrounds us everywhere and has even become an acceptable part of life.
I believe that my strong conviction in honesty has helped me in all aspects of my life. Without this standard of living for myself I would be a completely different person. It’s amazing to think how such a simple principle can completely dictate how I conduct my entire life. Throughout my experiences in life I have found that doing the right thing and being honest has helped my self-esteem and has provided me a means in which I could feel confident in myself and actions.