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Published: Tuesday 29th of October 2013

Honesty Essay Example


Honesty, as a virtue, has been preached the world over daily. Right from the household level to the community setting and in learning institutions, its importance has been amplified since time immemorial. Some instances arise in such a way that the practice of the virtue will only compromise the situation more and probably result in more wounds. Nevertheless, it is just through honesty that social links and interpersonal bonds are established. The practice of morality is enough to earn a person unfathomable life-long respect. The definition of honesty has always been debatable, with many opinions being aired.

However an active virtue it may be, honesty has its pros and cons. This fact is the natural antagonism of all natural laws; for every positive to exist, there must be a negative to contrast it with. The most beaming facet of honesty is that the people who observe it diligently maintain its ethics and never go back on it. They know that a pure lie will wipe all the trust that they have accrued courtesy of the virtue. Therefore, they avoid telling lies as it has a likelihood of leaving a black patch on their belief.

Pros and Cons of Honesty

The practice of honesty is like a social glue that binds people together. Honesty is the reason why people trust one another. For the social fabric of the society to maintain its integrity, morality must be there. When a person is honest, winning other people over and making friends is very easy. The trust that a person will accrue will be felt from the household level to the society.

Honest people are quickly exposed to the public platform and achieve fame. The acquisition of a fame stature in the society is a gateway to more friendships. There is an aura of peace anywhere you tread with such a label. Honest people have no refrains to observe and hence live in a more relaxed manner.

When people are honest, they begin to acquire fame. If you have a good reputation, it will be easier to have friends and you will feel that you’re in pleasant surroundings. Also, if you have nothing to hide, you have less stress to deal with. However, on the other hand, when a person is not honest, it is always worrying that the lies he has told are going to be discovered. He will still have to be careful with each move or comments that he makes.

The most significant con about honesty is that it is most of the time hurtful to people. Thus, it is hugely detrimental to interpersonal relations. People will not at all times be ready to hear the truth, especially, in instances where there is secrecy to be kept. If the fact is let out at such a point, there is a risk of a victim getting upset with an honest individual. This may even break the bond between them.

What Causes Dishonesty?

The lack of honesty is predicated on many factors, top of the list being the omission of content or deciding not to let out any material at all. This is classical dishonesty, and it is as dangerous as lying. It is, in fact, the most common type of cheating exhibited all over the world. Its close substitute is the rampant use of lies, mainly told to gain interest or cover up a wrong done.

The number one cause of avoiding honesty is the dread that its use will result in terrible outcomes. A good example is the classical case of ladies versus gentlemen honesty levels that come into play. When a typical lady sees her mate’s boyfriend strolling or chatting audaciously with another woman, they resort to telling that male. This is despite the fact that she understands that she can lose her friendship with the guy. The problem with this form of truth is what people think of the teller. One is usually branded ‘a snooper.’ It turns out as an irrational branding since women are known to have each other’s back in such situations. Characteristically, women are dreadful of bad things happening to them, and they, therefore, tend to apply the logic of saving a friend’s calamity to avert yours. Women are known to practice honesty even in appearance, where they seek the validation of their peers after dressing up.

A distinct contrast is on the male gender, who will offer responses depending on the expectations or returns. Men can defend a cheating friend to the last minute. Worse still, they are known to have the highest infidelity statistics among engaged, dating or married couples. Most men will hardly tell the truth when it is required and console themselves beyond the point of guilt. These are the positive traits that have labeled the male gender as disloyal and unfaithful.

Breach of Honesty

The breach of honesty as a virtue has gotten many disregarded by hypocrisy. It has cost many friendships and broken many social bonds. The so-labeled ‘hypocrite’ will have problems when it comes to seeking support from close acquaintances. It will be an uphill task determining whether they are telling you the truth or lying.

Analysis of some books has been done with close reference to the topic of honesty. The analysis centers on the importance of honesty and the effects that it has on people’s lives. In one of the books, the Pilot’s wife, a character by the name Jack is shown to be dishonest to his wife. The narration flows down, and we see a point where even after his demise, his spouse has no more confidence in him. Jack was determined to live a lie and went for a double life. He was always putting his wife through humiliation every time by his terrible deeds, but he would not accept it. He made his sorry wife suffer enough.

His dishonesty drove him headfirst into an abyss of problems without his realization. Jack’s life would prove to have been in vain due to the direction it took in the later years. At the time of his demise, people realized that he had not been honest with his personality and the society. His apparent mode of death was seen as more of a suicidal objective than a misfortune. Even his closest ally could barely believe it. Jack’s relatives were of similar disbelief since according to them, Jack had a fantastic life. They shelved any thoughts that he may have had problems pushing him to take his life. They were full of empathy for his wife, Kathryn and her little girl. It finally had dawned on them that Jack’s life had been a lie. He was a gentleman of double lives.

In this book, The Pilot’s Wife, we see many deceptions. Some characters fail the honesty test. They do not come clean with themselves or even the entire society. A relevant example is when Jack decides not to inform his wife of his other family. True love and mutual trust in a marriage would have pushed Jack to be truthful to his wife. Though the message would be hurting to Kathryn and the little girl, it would have been better than a stunned silence over what was a fact. On this occasion, he should have thought the adverse effects of his dishonesty.

Jack is depicted as a person not entirely honest, even to his daughter. The existence of a credible relationship between a father and a daughter would warrant a positive environment to pass whatever information was due. In the book, we see Jack’s classical dishonesty when he hides this crucial information from his daughter. He even lied to most people that his mother was dead, and made-believe the situation. It was not until after his death that they found out that he lied.

In the last section of the book, Kathryn seems to have missed the ultimate lesson as she turns out to be dishonest. She sets out to go on a visit to Jack’s other wife. In her visit, she conceals her identity and does not trust Jack’s other wife, probably thinking that since Jack is deceased, no one cares to know now. The character she depicts in this scenario is incorrect. She is under no moral obligation to lie to another person, particularly her co-wife. This counts as avoidance of information and, therefore, amounts to dishonesty.

It is apparent that the main characters discussed in this book do not get the importance of practicing honesty. It is more heartbreaking to realize that these characters are adults well past the age of mischief. It is, therefore, expected that they can tell what is right from the wrong version of it. This is a trait that grows as time flies.

In the family set up, we get parents on several occasions directing their children to practice honesty and shun speaking lies. The children learn with time that the telling of lies predisposes everyone involved in troubling. It backfires at the point of betrayal, and denial sets in.

In the book ‘The Color of Water,’ honesty has an integral role. Although it is not directly instituted in the book, its relevance is reiterated in its absence. There is immense dishonesty within the text that speaks volumes about the importance of honesty. ‘The Color of Water’ is a piece that focuses on James and his quest to understand his heritage and family background. It is a quintessential moment of self-doubt and disbelief when he finds that he, being black, is the son of a white mother. He does not understand this situation. As a young boy, he was always of the opinion that he was adopted. During his adolescent years, he grew up with the notion that his mother lied to him. He believed that his mother was dishonest with him over so many things.

It turns out that due to this particular incidence, James’s mother loses his trust entirely. He devotes himself to probing the reason only to realize that his suspicion was correct but not in a way that he perceived before. The idea that his mother had kept the truth from him was that it was a traumatizing experience for her to remember. Agony and dreadful things marred her history. This realization brings James to try and validate his mother’s actions. It is in this instance that he realizes he had been wrong not to trust his mother. It is correct that his mother had not been honest with him but for a reason.

Honesty has disadvantages that are depicted in the text. One of them that can be extorted easily is the pain that occurred to James after knowing the truth about his father. He gets to learn that his grandparents would not accept him because of the color of his skin, which was the reason for his mother fleeing her home. She had been in love with a black man, James’s father, a situation that was fiercely fought by her parents.

The text is decorated with tons of secrecies and anonymities surrounding the background of young James and his mother. An example is how her mother maintains her pregnancy as a secret for a long time.

It is such secrecy which suppresses honesty and results in heartbreaks. James’s mother would not like these issues to resurface as they were daunting to her. This drove her to dishonesty in her family since she knew the opposition that would arise. All these forced her to consider aborting the pregnancy since her situation was already compromised. Ruth was too young in the day to take care of the child. Though she kept honesty to herself, it was of little help.

It turns out that Ruth is clueless to the reason behind her maternal aunts’ silence of two decades. Their situation is a guarded secret. She also kept secret Tateh’s sexual molesting of her. These are historical secrecies that are alive in the present, and they turn out to be cumbersome for Ruth. They end up complicating the relationship between her and her family.

Ruth’s household is characterized and exhibiting features of honesty and dishonesty simultaneously. They are honest about their hate for the blacks. However, they lie to themselves about their origin and intent to change to be Americans. In this quest of Americanizing themselves, they lose their motive and lie to everyone.

Honesty can be injurious to people as it is sometimes taken for the negative. For instance, Ruth fears telling people that her mother and father are racist because she dreads that the community will label her similarly, and she might end up being an outcast there as well.

As explored from the two books, honesty is of great significance, especially in the improvement of the context. Honesty is portrayed as an indispensable virtue.

The two books discuss the pros and cons of honesty as a virtue. In the first text, ‘The Pilot’s Wife,’ openness is seen as dangerous and injurious to people. It is better not to disclose the precise details than to let them out if they harm the society. The effects of this are universally felt in the immediate community. Towards the conclusion of the book, Jack loses his dignity as the Pilot he was at the beginning. He is, henceforth, perceived as a liar, an infidelity cheat who had no respect for his wife among others.

The subjects and focus of the context in the books are typically analogous to the current society. Majority of the people are not honest even with themselves. They just focus their attention on it for the sake of a good feeling. They bear the opinion that it is better for them if they exist in their imaginary world for convenience.

With regards to Ruth’s case, honesty is kept at bay, but the consequences are not as far-reaching as in the pilot’s case. However, a few implications can be highlighted. For instance, her decision to abandon her kin and adopt a new name sprouted out of dishonesty. Initially, it seemed to be all right until her son became of age and had to ask the bitter question. James grew up in total confusion about his identity, even going to the extent of taking himself as a foster child to his mother.


Honesty is a vital principle to the person and the community at large. It raises the stature of a person to a better man and makes one trustworthy. A dishonest person rakes many problems to themselves.

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