Have you ever read an article about current parenting trends? As I’ve raised my three little ones and tried to figure the art of mothering out, I’ve dabbled in these how-to blurbs every now and again. And more often than not, the prevalent theme that I read was this: be positive. Instead of telling a child what not to do, you encourage them to be good (and even great). In my striving to put those techniques into play, I remember that when we brought our second new baby home, our then-two-year-old got quite a lot of encouragement to ‘be soft’ with the tiny newborn (I had to hold my tongue quite a bit as I really wanted to tell him to ‘not hit’ so many times!). Now, I’ve even learned that I, myself, thrive in positivity and shrivel up in depression with constant negativity.
Recently, I was studying about the topic of honesty. I was struggling with the content I was finding, because most everything focused on the don’ts of honesty: don’t lie, don’t steal, and don’t cheat. Even the scriptures dealt heavily with these warnings, as found especially in the Ten Commandments in the Exodus chapter 20: ‘Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.’
In the middle of my studies, I finally came across something that lifted my heart and spoke to me, in a talk by James E Faust, from the October 1996 General Conference: ‘Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving.’ Yes, here was something that was inspired me – an encouragement to become more in our honesty – to build ourselves up in honesty.
President Brigham Young expounded more on the way that one is to live honestly, when he said, “If we accept salvation on the terms it is offered to us, we have got to be honest in every thought, in our reflections, in our meditations, in our private circles, in our deals, in our declarations, and in every act of our lives” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young). What a wonderful level of goodness to strive for!
But why is honesty so important? It is the basis of all other important virtues. If one is honest, one is true to others, oneself, and to God. An honest person enjoys peace of mind and maintains self-respect (Honesty, True to the Faith). Honesty leads to integrity, commandment and covenant-keeping, and ultimately, as found in John 8:32, ‘the truth shall make you free.’ What a wonderful promise for those that live a life of truth and honesty.
Benjamin Franklin is credited for the following proverb: ‘Honesty is the best policy.’ Marvin J Ashton added to this wonderful policy in the April 1982 General Conference, when he said: ‘Honesty is more than a policy. It is a happy way of life as we deal with our fellowmen, and particularly as we live with ourselves.’ Yes, an honest person is a happy person.
And with this, my study of honesty had come full-circle. Here I was, back at positivity, happiness, and the potential of freedom. I was truly grateful that I could focus on building myself up in honesty, rather than the scary aspect of avoiding the evils and punishments of the antonym. Yes, I was inspired to become more, to build a life of perfect honesty.