Is Honesty the Best Policy?

Of course it is, you say!  It is implied in the Ten Commandments … thou shalt not bear false witness.

Perhaps not.  Here are two illustrations.  One you may have seen that is circulating on the internet where an obviously blind man with a white cane is seated alone on a park bench.  A young man in sunglasses sits down next to him and he asks this perfect stranger to describe what he sees going on in the park.

Off-put for just a few moments, the stranger seems to realize the blind man wants to know what a seeing person can see in the park.  So he begins describing the children playing with their friends, the little boy flying a kite with his parents, still another celebrating a birthday party, and a young couple sitting on a blanket enjoying some food and wine together.  The blind man beams with happiness through this, thoroughly enjoying the joyful scenes being described to him in colorful detail.  When a friend calls to the younger man to join them, the stranger says his goodbyes and walks away.

The scene then shifts to show where the stranger had been looking, and nothing was going on in the park.  No children playing, no kites, no people picnicking on a blanket. Then they show the young man in sunglasses walking toward his friends, with his white cane for he too was blind.  When asked to simply honor the request of another person, why not use it as an opportunity to make and share joy?  Nothing was to be gained by just telling the first blind person that he was blind as well.  Why not enter into a conversation with the vision of what is possible and create and share some enjoyment with another human being?

The second illustration is something that happened in my family.  We were visiting one of our elderly parents in the nursing home to celebrate a birthday and reading her cards from each of her children.  Unfortunately, one of her sons had passed away that year and of course could not have possibly sent the card. The siblings had decided to not share with her the loss knowing it would only bring heartbreak.  So, they wrote one from him and read it to her along with the others. She beamed in appreciation.

What was funny about that was something her niece commented after the gathering, “I am going to need therapy for this someday!”

Loving one another does not require us to be brutally honest in every situation.  There are times when simply not answering the question is the best answer.  There are other times when we should tell a white lie.  And, there are still other times when we should enter a make-believe world where everything is better.  Operating from a motivation of love is the best guidepost to your answer.


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