I have always prided myself for living in a country that valued its integrity and human rights policy. Now, with tweets of “Fake News” and accusations of lies, of withholding truth, or alternative facts, I find myself questioning the importance of honesty and integrity. For me, this also brings into question our relationships: with our loved ones, that special loved one, with our community, or public leaders, and with ourselves.
Without relationships, I feel the human experience of life as we know it cannot exist. (This is a subject for a blog post on another day.)
Relationships are, of course, complicated and have many elements – but there is one element that glues everything together. That fundamental element is trust.
Honesty and Integrity.
I had two very important relationships in the past with individuals who were not always truthful to me. The mistruths, deceptions, and outright lies eventually broke my trust. Once that trust was broken, I couldn’t get it back. At my core I no longer trusted that person. Consequently, it destroyed the relationship.
What happens, then, when our public leaders withhold truth, lie, or consistently make accusations of others, thereby misconstruing the truth?
- All people have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
- Be compassionate to those in need.
- Be tolerant of differences.
- Do no harm.
- People have the right to be free of discrimination based on race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, creed, disability, veteran’s status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
First, the greatest success in life is being happy with yourself. If integrity is absent from your life, you cannot be happy with yourself. Sure, you can still pursue pleasure … but you will be blocking yourself from any significant fulfillment. If honesty is absent, you will have to lie to yourself to be able to come “comfortably” to terms with your own actions. And the minute you lie to yourself, you violate your integrity … and, in the process, block yourself from true happiness and fulfillment.
If you cannot be honest with people, you cannot develop long-term meaningful relationships with anyone, because there is no trust between you. No matter how skilled you are at being deceptive, the truth eventually comes to the surface. When it does, trust is gone. Without trust the relationship begins to erode like a cancer from within.
If you are not honest with yourself … if you violate your own values, you will have difficulty trusting yourself. You will eventually become overwhelmed with doubt, and with good reason.
This is why I can’t support reducing taxes when one of the costs is sacrificing affordable healthcare for everyone and giving windfalls to the wealthy. Why I can’t stand behind closing our borders to refugees escaping the horrors of war because they come from countries known to house terrorists. Why I can’t support billions of dollars being invested in a wall to separate us from our neighbors, when these same neighbors are so desperate for employment they will take our most menial of jobs. Not to mention that this wall will siphon off funds from much needed programs to help our children, seniors, and the ill or vulnerable.
If you think that taking a shortcut, and sacrificing your integrity and living out of alignment with basic values, will somehow get you more money, success and security or even more fun and pleasure, think again. You’re probably thinking short term. In the long term, violating trust with others or with your self is the surest way to failure. Also, remember to never confuse pleasure with happiness … they are very different terms and values (again, another post for another day – but the basic idea is that pleasure is a shorter term feeling while happiness is a long-term element of the human experience).
Of course, your values and the meanings you attach to honesty and integrity can be different from mine – but regardless of how you define these values, I strongly urge you to take a serious look at how you apply these values in your life, your business, your relationships, and your responses to the world. Short-term results may be deceiving – think about the life you want to create … the person you want to become… and the world you want your grandchildren to inherit.