Analysing Honesty

Telling the truth has been deemed as a virtue in different societies. As a kid, I rarely questioned this wisdom. Schools often focused on the need to be honest. In India, where Mahatma Gandhi is held in the highest regard, his doctrine of Satyagraha was oft repeated and heralded. Parents always insist their children speak the truth. However, simple curiosity has lately pushed me to understand why honesty is thought of as such a virtue and who honestly benefits from it.

As a receiver of information, an honest source has numerous benefits. Simply receiving the right information is useful in its own right. Additionally, knowing that a source is honest saves on the extra effort to validate every detail. Having a source that you trust unconditionally allows you to save on hunting multiple sources for the same information and from expending energy to validate what you already know. An ecosystem with only honest sources is simply more efficient. However, it takes very little to break this trust. One bad experience is all it takes for one to distrust a source and this leads us to the benefits of being honest.

Being honest has a multitude of benefits. Speaking the truth and not hiding lies just leads to conservation of energy, time and money. Your position is also more stable when you have little to hide — it simply gives you more options as you don’t need to focus on hiding your mis-actions/lies. Thermodynamically, it’s simply more stable. It takes little effort to convince someone if you are known to be honest. It takes little effort in coming up with answers because you don’t need to manufacture new facts (lies). It also does not involve hiding any demons and hence helps conserve energy.

Naturally, there are repercussions which haven’t been covered in this post. However, if honesty is your go-to strategy, there are few things that you’d have to fear. A lot of missteps stem from our belief that we can hide or get away with things. Simply being honest would go a long way in avoiding those missteps.

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