One of my favorite Depeche Mode songs of all time is called “The Policy of Truth”. Not only is the music killer 80’s new wave (yes, I did just say “killer”, as in “wicked” or “sick”), but the lyrics have resonated with a question I often ask myself:
“Is being honest really the best policy?”
Have you ever noticed how being honest can sometimes invite embarrassment and difficulty? If you haven’t noticed, you must be a compulsive liar.
“But…But…But…I was telling you the truth! Why are you mad at me?”
“I am too afraid to ask for help because it might be too embarrassing.”
“If I tell him/her about my past, they won’t love me anymore…”
“What if people don’t like what I have to say? What if it’s not popular?”
The list goes on, but let’s return to the original question:
Is being honest really the best policy?
You didn’t see that coming, did you? I’m full of surprises.
Honesty is hard, but honesty reveals what is true, not just about us, but also about others. When I am honest with someone I have wronged, that is an invitation for someone’s true character to take the stage. Grace? Bitterness? Rage? Compassion? Forgiveness? No, don’t go around hurting people to “test” them. That’s not the point I’m trying to make…
When I’ve been honest with someone about my spiritual beliefs, I often learn whether or not the other person is willing to accept who I am, even if we disagree on spiritual matters. It’s honesty that flourishes when we seek the right help for our brokenness. Honesty is what makes real relationships real.
Don’t believe me? Well, maybe you’ll believe this obscure philosopher:
“Being honest may not get you a lot of friends but it’ll always get you the right ones.” – John Lennon
Whoever that John guy is, he sure got that one right.
I want friends who love me for who I am, not for who I pretend to be. Don’t you? Do you really want friendships that are built on surface-level lies that are devoid of real intimacy?
Honesty about my own personal battles during conversations with my counselor has brought about incredible healing. Our brokenness is not something we should share with just anyone; yet, with the right person, it can bring so much life.
Honesty can catalyze healing in the hearts of those we have wronged. When we are honest and own up to our selfish decisions, we are showing someone else that they matter more than our own pride.
In conclusion: yes, honesty is the best policy.