Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Honesty is the Best Policy

It was once said of the genius business tycoon Jay Gould. That he was ruthlessly sharp in any business deal, but could be absolutely, one hundred percent, trusted on a handshake. Of course, being ruthless in business, doesn't necessarily mean being dishonest, it simply means undercutting the competition to get the contract.

Is honesty really the best policy? ...Not only is it the best policy it is the only policy worth following, if one wants to live within the skin of a good character and not have one's character blackened; then honest is the best policy. In business in particular, just one dishonest act, can destroy one's business reputation forever.

Telling a lie, does not necessarily equate with being dishonest. A person in certain circumstances can tell an honest lie, for example: If your child had been kidnapped and there was a demand for ransom, and you could not afford the demand, then it would be an honest and indeed moral act, to stall for time, pretend you did have the money and 'play out this game' until you could meet the demands.

Of course, there are exceptions to honesty being the best policy. If you were a hostage negotiator, then part of your 'remit' is to often lie and bluff. If you knew that your honest answer to one person, could get another person killed, then the honest course of action would be to lie. Of course in such circumstances, there is no loss of integrity. Indeed, if one decided not to bluff in such circumstances, one would be considered a dishonest negotiator and not fit for the job.

There are other reasons for not being fully open and honest, that within themselves one could not consider as dishonest. For example, we all have parts of our private life which we like to keep private. When someone asks a private question into your personal affairs, it is not at all dishonest, to simply tell the person it is none of their business (politely of course).

One could of course argue, that in politics, dishonesty is the best policy. Politicians that are good at fleecing the general public, with their spin, often get the votes and the honest politician is left floundering. But dishonesty in politics may get one ahead in the short term, but history often finds out a compulsive liar and politics is full of broken politicians, who's careers have been recked because of their dishonesty.

So, all-in-all, yes indeed, honesty is the best policy. In fact it is the only policy worth following, if one wants respect and indeed, if one does not want to lose respect for one's self. If you wish to lose respect and have your character forever blackened, then just start being dishonest.

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