| 03.20.2018

Ode to brutal honesty – A case for the honesty policy in everyday situations


There”s a reason so many people support Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

The two political candidates recently won the New Hampshire primary, and while most people are likely bewildered, many are also thrilled. Both Trump and Sanders have an army of supporters – Americans who support them despite how ridiculous each can be on a number of occasions.

Erin Bamer

Though their ideas and tactics are sometimes questionable, to say the least, Sanders and Trump are distinct from other cookie cutter politicians in a refreshing way. Voters get the sense that during public events, both candidates say exactly what”s on their mind.

I”m not trying to say that either Sanders or Trump deserve to be president because they don”t have a filter. But there is something to be learned from these candidates in being honest about our thoughts, even if they aren”t pretty.

Plenty of people in the world now resort to lying in day-to-day life just to avoid awkward interactions. The white lie has become an accepted part of society. Children grow up learning that outright fibbing isn”t OK, but telling small lies when convenient is perfectly fine.

The problem is when people get comfortable telling white lies on a regular basis it can become a slippery slope. Obviously, lying is convenient – people wouldn”t do it so often if it weren”t. But if it becomes a habit, soon a person can justify any lie, no matter how big.

This is how politicians try to get away with lying to the public, because they say it was for the “greater good” of society after they get caught. But this is why so many people like listening to Sanders and Trump, because their speeches are so much more candid than the rest of the candidates.

People need to be more comfortable with brutal honesty, and less comfortable with white lies. Sticking to the truth establishes clarity and consistency in relationships. Even when the truth is tough to hear, it”s usually the better option compared to lying just because it”s easier.

If a student sees that one of their classmates has green stuff in their teeth, that classmate would probably prefer to know about it sooner rather than later. If an employee finds a flaw in one of their coworker”s plans, that coworker would likely appreciate being notified beforehand. Just because telling the truth in these situations may seem weird, it doesn”t mean it shouldn”t be done.

There is a difference between brutal honesty and rude commentary, however. I”m not trying to argue that people should go around insulting others just because it”s what they truly feel. Lying by omission is not the same thing as lying outright.

For example, if someone thinks their distant relative is a total jerk, they probably shouldn”t randomly approach the relative to say so. However, if the relative in question approaches them and asks them about their feelings, being honest may lead to a conversation that will help their relationship.

Brutal honesty is useful when it serves a purpose. There is a time and a place for the white lie if it will spare someone”s feelings and when there is no other reason to be honest.

But being honest whenever possible establishes trust in relationships so much better than lying does. When people know exactly where they stand with others it often makes interactions much more comfortable in the long run.

Deceit may seem easier in the moment, but honesty usually is the better policy, I”m not going to lie.

Erin Bamer can be reached at arg-opinion@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @ErinBamer

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