Only Just A Matter Of Trust
How trustworthy are you? It’s a personal question of public significance, because honesty always has a flow on effect.
It’s interesting watching how people justify dishonesty. Even reasonable people do extraordinary somersaults in their thinking to defend it. So, despite what we’ve been told, most folk are neither totally trustworthy nor otherwise (but a varying blend of both).
Psychological researchers observe that we tend to be honest if we feel we are being watched. Whereas, if we believe we can get away with being untrustworthy and the payoff is sufficient, we are more likely to obey our inclinations.
At its extremes, unless we have an overarching reason to be trustworthy, then corruption and cheating seem like viable options. Which is why “doing things to look good” or to obey the law, are inadequate ways of creating higher levels of trust.
Why do I say that? Well, it’s inevitable that there will be times when nobody is watching to see just how noble each of us are being. Just as there are also occasions when the law is unable to trace deceptive behavior.
Besides which, a lot of life doesn’t fit under the rule of law anyway (take dishonesty in a relationship, for example). Trustworthiness needs something better than punitive rules.
People of faith find the answer to honesty much more clear-cut, thanks to their beliefs. Values that make sense to us personally can powerfully shape our behavior, giving us cause to act prudently when nobody can see, and behave in trustworthy ways because it’s “part of who we are”.
Of course, this is a complex and nuanced issue. But this theme is pretty simple. Having personal reasons to be trustworthy is the best way to live more honestly. Not in some willpower way that leaves us fighting our internal desires. But, a higher level of thinking that puts our own value so much higher than things, and short-term comforts, that honesty seem easy.
Well, that’s one approach to honesty. And, though we may have our moments of forgetting who we are, it generally works, if we think big enough.
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