My relationship with honesty started out on a rocky footing, it could have gone either way really. My father was thought of as a very honest man by most, and to most, he was, but to my mother, he was something of a pathological liar. She was very honest and gullible. However, by the time of my earliest memories, she was in her mid thirties and had been married to my father for fifteen years or so. Enough time for her to believe nothing he said. He seemed to feel that for her to believe him, he just needed to put on a better, more heartfelt performance. It didn’t seem to occur to him that track record might be of importance. It’s amazing how in tune small children can be in assessing the true nature of a situation, better than adults in many cases. At an extremely early age, we start to pick up the intelligence to put two and two together, but more importantly, we have not yet developed the prejudices and mechanisms of self delusion. I believe that these prejudices and mechanisms of self delusion can be good tools for our success by allowing us to push aside all the distracting and competing information. It is often better to focus on bulldozing our way to success by sweeping away all the contradictions, confusion and doubt. Success is usually better attained by choosing one thing, carefully at first, and then going with it and seeing it through with dogged determination and consistency. I believe that this is an evolutionary trait that has been naturally selected for, one that enhances the success of our species. The world is full of brilliant people with very clear and accurate views of the world, who amount to little because they get caught up weighing too many options and worrying too much about mistakes, fairness and all the little details, things that tend to make people change course. Now, if you choose your project wrongly, that can also be very bad.
In my case, I went down my dad’s path at times, but I realized that my father could not communicate very well with my mother. His words lost meaning and importance. I did not like that. I wanted people to listen to me and believe me when I said something, not go through some little game of ‘how convincing can I sound’. I, being a child, also saw that if I never lied, and told it how it is, I could have this trust. I remember when my father wanted my mother to do something she was afraid of and after failing to convince her himself, told me “David, you tell her, she believes you”. Now I’m in a bind! Does he think that she believes me because of the shape of my face? This is precious and hard earned capital we are dealing with here, a capital that can easily be shattered. I had really gotten to like being able to tell people something and have it stick, not play a game, with them giving a lukewarm nod.
Now, of course lying has been shown to have tremendous value in manipulating and getting your way. Perhaps we should forget about all the silly stuff I just said… never mind. But seriously, this all depends on who your audience is. My story is relevant if the people you care about over many years is your audience. If what you care about is a larger audience that does not know you, knock yourself out I guess.
As I began, I had a rocky start and dabbled in some obfuscation from time to time. It could have gone either way. I feel that the more interesting, inquisitive and accepting the people you are around are, the easier it is to go with being honest and open. It is definitely much more engaging and fulfilling.
In full disclosure, I feel that it is fine to exaggerate a few things here and there to make a more entertaining story. Isn’t that ‘life’ to remember things with a little more spice than there actually was? Of course everything I write is completely true and accurate 😉