Daily prompt: Whose honesty?

Daily Prompt
Truth or Dare
Is it possible to be too honest, or is honesty always the best policy?

We’ve most of us at least heard of Pontius Pilate, who said ‘What is truth?’, then washed his hands of the whole affair and nicked off before anyone could take him up on it and start a philosophical debate on a question to which there is no definitive answer.

If he hadn’t, the whole cornerstone of Christian belief – that Christ was crucified for our sins and rose again on the third day to save us all – would never have got off the ground, which raises a whole lot of interesting possibilities, among them the thesis that Christian faith is based on one of two things: either a monumental lack of backbone in Pontius Pilate, or human inability to grasp the fact that very few things in this life are absolute.

Which brings us back to honesty, which is all about telling the truth. Provided we know what it is.

There are, of course, numerous situations in which honesty is blessedly black and white.
Have you done your homework?
Yes, Mum.
Then bring it here and show me.


But there are even more situations in which honesty is a matter of perception and opinion, coloured by culture, creed, upbringing, education, social mores and even fashion. And possibly above all, personal preference. So to claim absolute universal honesty on all occasions would be a touch arrogant, wouldn’t you say? The best you can hope for is honesty as seen through the screen of your own standards and beliefs.

And if you insist on unvarnished honesty in all situations, you’re probably excruciatingly tactless.


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25 Responses to Daily prompt: Whose honesty?

  1. lifelessons says:

    The most thoughtful and honest reply to the prompt that I’ve read, Helen. Good work, girl!!!

  2. Brief and provocative. Nicely done. Van

  3. Noah Weiss says:

    Great thoughts. Sometimes, I can be too honest, and have to realise when it is useful to tell a white lie or an incomplete truth.

  4. bkpyett says:

    Well done Helen!

  5. There are moral absolutes, of course, and immoral absolutes, too. Such as mass beheadings, burnings and and countless other atrocities.

    • But even moral and immoral absolutes vary between cultures. Those who carry out mass beheadings in the name of their god see it as absolutely moral. I can’t get my head around that – but they can’t get their heads around a lot of what we consider moral. And perhaps closer to home, to me, capital punishement is an immoral absolute, but it’s ‘right’ in some states of the US.
      I don’t know how we deal with this dichotomy. Practical morality says we can’t let the beheadings go on. But philosophically, do we have the right to consider their moral absolutes as less valid than ours?

      • ChristineR says:

        I only recently read that, during the Inquisitions, questioners were actually forbidden to draw blood – which is why they liked the rack, crushing and burning, they kept the skin intact. The gods have a lot to answer for, and most civilizations have blood on their hands from one thing or another.

      • Can’t answer for the god involved. He could well be blameless. It’s the people involved who are doing these things.

    • I think the gods themselves are probably OK. It’s the ‘true believers’ who mess things up!

      • Which of your “gods” answers for what? ISIS just released a video of 3 prisoners being blown up. 4 more in cages video taped as the cage was submerged so we could watch them drown. Now that’s a screwed up God!

  6. I do believe a large segment of the earth’s population would not recognize a truth — and definitely not Truth (if there is any such thing) — even it it ran them down in Walmart’s parking lot. It’s hard to be honest if you don’t know truth from a TV commercial. Or you believe TV commercials ARE truth.

    • I don’t want to sound like a dinosaur yearning for the ‘good old days’, which weren’t any better overall as we both know, but I do think truth back then was regarded with more respect and those caught diverging from it faced consequences. These days we assume politicians will lie through their teeth, corruption and spin doctoring are par for the course and ‘right’ is what you can get away with. Very depressing.

  7. Considering something moral doesn’t make it so. What is “par” for the course depends on which course one plays.

    • ‘What is “par” for the course depends on which course one plays.’ Exactly. Morality has a context. I consider capital punishment completely immoral. 31 states in the US consider it moral. Who is the ultimate judge?

      • There is only one ultimate judge, if I understand what ultimate means. He doesn’t need to “consider” in order to render an ultimate judgement.despite any context,we consider.

  8. Aunt Beulah says:

    I agree with every word of this post, which means I lie when it’s either that or hurt the feelings of someone I care about. Then, of course, I feel guilty. But only for a little while.

  9. Pingback: DAILY PROMPT|Happily Ever After Quotes | Daily Wordpress Prompts 2015

  10. ChristineR says:

    I agree that honesty is the best policy – within reason. I had trouble with Father Christmas, the Tooth Fairy, and Easter Bunny but still wanted my kids to have the childhood experience of their peers. I couldn’t lie when they asked if they were real. But, as you suggest Helen, honesty really depends on personal preference, since I had no trouble lying by omission whilst destroying my first marriage. Now, with that way behind me, I like to think I’ve gone back to my ‘basic’ honesty.

    There is always a place for the odd little fib to spare feelings. None of us want to be seen as brutal.

    • ‘Brutal’ honesty is often a self-indulgence, I think – a camouflage for those who secretly enjoy sticking the knife in. I didn’t have too much trouble with Father Christmas etc, When faced with the necessity of coming clean, I explained that they were mythical representations of the spirit of giving – but much more simply than that! – which is what I actually believe.

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