Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.
– Thomas Jefferson
How may I be honest with you today? That was a line spoken by Tuvok to Chakotay on an episode of Voyager I recently watched, and the line stood out to me in its honesty.
As much as I like the Star Trek franchise, this post isn’t about Star Trek, it’s about ethics, living honestly and with integrity. Vulcans are non-emotional people, I say non-emotional rather than unemotional because they have trained themselves to mitigate the effects of emotion.
One can see the appeal of being in full control of your emotions at all times. But it’s got to be a hard row to hoe. Vulcans are also especially honest and this is the theme for today’s chat. I like to think that both honesty and emotion can dwell humbly and contentedly within the body and mind.
In fact, I’d argue that it is our emotions to which we owe a great debt to the wonder and richness of living as a human being. Like the right amount of spice and herbs can add complexity and enjoyment to a meal, so can the right allotment of emotion can enrich our journey from womb to worms.
So is the title of this post not a question that we should be asking ourselves on a daily basis? How may I be honest with you today? This simple phrase I am certain will keep many thorns and weeds from entangling you on your path and journey.
Honesty is not easy. I know it isn’t from firsthand experience. As I write this, I am pausing also to reflect on my 10 years of sobriety. If you are at all familiar with Alcoholics Anonymous you are probably aware that it revolves around a 12 step program. But it is the first step that is crucial to not only this post but also to the very success I believe of AA, and perhaps that is why it is placed first.
The first step is to admit that you have a problem. Admit, that is the key here. It very often means (depending on your source) to “confess to be true…” And truth and honesty are but different edges of the same sword.
In my eventual triumph over alcohol, it was not until I confessed to myself that I was abusing alcohol, it was not until I became honest with myself that I was able to overcome the demon and my addiction. From being honest with myself did I find the courage to overpower and claim my personal sanctity and learn to live with conviction.
And every day usually allows me an opportunity of being honest with myself. If I am looking to lose weight, I must first be honest with myself today about what I eat or what I have eaten.
So often fear impedes our ability to be honest with ourselves. You see this very often in children who fear the outcome of being “found out”. But the fear of honesty, or the repercussions of what honesty entails is often just a mirage, and it is the lies that we weave that entangle us in webs of despair.
As I wrote about the other day when mentioning that there is always someone thinking about you, well, there is always someone watching you too. If it is only your own soul that is enough. For the lies we tell ourselves and the lies that we ask the soul to live with are treacherous and tormenting. To live lightly means to be honest daily and walk the road of truth and honesty.
So ask yourself today “how may I be honest with you?” and see the answers that you uncover. But let me also add a caveat. Honesty is not permission for vindictiveness and spite. Honesty rather is a caring companion who picks you up when you fall and forgives you when you transgress. So do not mistake honesty for the cat of nine tails with which we can so quickly beat ourselves when we stumble. Or the acid with which we judge others.
Authentic honesty comes from a place of love and caring. So start with yourself and from there we can branch out and through our example reach others and show them the benefits of honesty. If you steal, put it back, if you can’t put it back, make amends to the larger circle. But be honest with yourself and allow that honesty to shield you from temptation. Be a witness to authenticity and integrity and be honest in your dealings with others and yourself.
Honesty is the scythe that clears the path before us and the balm which soothes our weary soul along these travels. I hope I have been honest with you today.