Honesty Parameters

I watched the movie “Interstellar” a couple of weeks ago.  I really enjoyed the film on a lot of different levels.  The story was interesting.  The relationships between the different characters is complex and multi-faceted.  The film was based on scientific theory that I am interested in.  The special effects were well done and the score was enchanting.  Overall it was a really enjoyable film.  The film also tackled some questions about what it means to be human.  The one that piqued my interest was about honesty.

At one point in the film, Anne Hathaway’s character says to Matthew McConaughey’s character, “I’m just being honest.”  McConaughey’s character then asked the robot, TARS, if he had an honesty setting.  The robot’s response was it is set at 90%.

“Absolute honesty isn’t always the most diplomatic nor safest form of communication with emotional beings.” -TARS

That got me thinking…….as an emotional being dealing with other emotional beings………How honest is too honest?  What do the people around me view as being honest?  Is it okay to lie?  When?  I brought up this subject with a few of my friends and the resulting conversations were enlightening and interesting.

When I asked the first friend her thoughts on honesty her instant response was too much honesty can get you hurt.  She said that when you tell someone feelings and they aren’t ready to hear what you are saying they lash out.  The honesty is too much for them.  You have to be careful how much you share, even with those you are closest to.

This same friend also said that you have to be careful who you share things with.  There are some people who you are really superficial with.  You don’t lie to them.  You just don’t necessarily tell them anything of any importance.  And there are other people in your life that you know on a deeper level.  You tend to be more open or honest, sharing more with them.

The next friend that I spoke to said that there are levels of honesty especially when it comes to self preservation.  For example, he said, if you are in a job with a boss that is micro-managing, wanting you to work all the time and calls you in to work on your days off, you may not be forth coming about your days off.  My friend continued to say that if his boss thinks he is at home on his days off, the boss would call him back in to work.  But if his boss thinks he is out of town, he wouldn’t get the call.  For self preservation, you may not tell this person where you intend to spend your time when you are not at your job.  So I asked my friend, why don’t you just say no, I’m not available.  He said that in his company people who don’t come in to cover shifts don’t last long.  It’s a sad statement about the company he works for because everyone needs a break to recharge.  But I understood what he was saying.  I worked for someone that was exactly like that.  She would call or text you on your days off or when you were on vacation.  If you didn’t respond she would write you up or berate you in front of other staff members.  You learned to do what you had to do to protect yourself.  Is this dishonest or self preservation?

The third friend I spoke with about honesty said that there are people who say they are honest but are really just cruel.  I instantly understood what she was talking about.  You may know a person like this.  This person says things and claims they are “truth” when it is their opinion and often what they say is mean and hurtful.  This person can be disparaging about themselves but the “truth” is often aimed at others.  This person wields their “honesty” with the skill of a samurai swordsman, cutting down everything and everyone that they come into contact with.  This kind honesty is hurtful and harmful.

My next friend said that she tells the truth because then she doesn’t have to remember the lie.  If she has to deviate from the truth, she tries to keep it as close to the truth as possible.  Like one of the other people I spoke to, she said that she doesn’t share everything with everyone.  Instead of lying, she stated that she would just not tell a particular person something.  Not everyone gets full disclosure.

The last friend that I asked about honesty quoted, “Honesty is the best policy.”  And then he said, “but that doesn’t mean you can always tell someone everything.”  As he works in they type of job that requires security clearance, I think what he meant was that you can’t and shouldn’t always share things.  In his case if he talked about his job, it could get him fired.  Not everyone works where they are required to sign nondisclosure forms.  However, there are things about all of us that no other human being on the planet needs to know.  And I don’t believe that it is being dishonest if one doesn’t share every detail about oneself.

Here is what I learned:

  • Yes, there is such a thing as too much honesty and not everyone can handle hearing the truth;
  • We choose who we feel comfortable sharing and being honest with;
  • A white lie may be “dishonest” but it can also be self preservation;
  • Honesty can be used as a weapon;
  • If you don’t lie you don’t have to try and remember it; and
  • You don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to.

I also learned that I have really cool friends that will tackle complex topics with me.

As an emotional being dealing with other emotional beings, I am going to continue forward doing the best that I can to be safe, diplomatic and at least 90% honest in all areas of my life.

4 thoughts on “Honesty Parameters

  1. Joan Higgins-Smith says:

    Honesty is the best policy; but in the recipe of living it is measured like sugar and salt–it is measured and not just dumped into the bowl. I think they call that “diplomacy” and how we measure our honesty comes from our trust we have in the individual we are communicating with.


  2. In this age of political correctness, honesty is no longer appreciated


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