Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Honesty vs Stupidity


A long while ago I made this statement to a trapped friend of mine: "There is a very thin line between honesty and stupidity" He put forth his wonder about such a line and I continued thus.
"When one is called upon to present oneself, vocally or otherwise, then one must be true. That is honesty. While a stupid man is one who believes that in the name of honesty he must go all over the world and tell everyone what he believes to be true and shout it down ears, interested or not."

I believe I had made myself clear to my friend and myself. At least to myself. When not requested or (its aggressive brother) demanded, presenting oneself is stupidity. Who asked for it? Or so I believed.

Over the recent times of my life, I have come to realise that being honest even when called upon to present oneself is pure naivete. Before I proceed, I must confess that I haven't been honest always. I have told my share of lies especially when it was in relation to missing cookies or being late (which is a recent disease of mine). But regarding what I believe and what I feel I have, as of today, never been dishonest. I assure you that "never" was not accidental.

But recent times makes me rethink this whole business of honesty. A dear friend of mine coaxed me into reading Fountainhead, something I have been resisting for nearly 10 years now. I still don't find it great, but certain aspects of Mr. OrangeHead make me sit back and think. My friend compared me to Mr. OrangeHead (and I shall have a separate post about the different names I have been given. No one, and I mean absolutely no one, believes I am who I am) and I failed to see the similarity (as I always do!). One thing I liked about him was his honesty. He was clear and honest about what he believed in and his seemingly misanthropic nature helped not care about what people thought or felt towards him.

People are prompt in preaching about honesty. Whether they stick to it or not is a matter which helps the world go around. I do not believe that honesty is the best policy (and did you know that good ol' Shakespeare said that?). I enjoy and love being honest and hence I do that except for days when I have hiccups! What gets my near invisible goatee is the double standards people prescribe to honesty. Everyone should be honest but they will decide when the right time for honesty is.

Recently I have had startling incidents when people have surprised me and enjoyed lying and using honesty as a weapon rather than a simple reality as light as the early morning breeze.

A while ago a person who is up in the hierarchy of things was discussing with me the problems that one particular product release had had. I had been crying wild since day one as I disliked the design and the technical details, but they fell on stone deaf ears. She said, "E, let us put aside all those technical issues and revisit them later. Now tell me honestly (damn! she had to use that word), do you see places where the team fell short of expectations?" I thought she was serious to analyse the situation and listed out areas where the team had not been wise enough to do things correctly and the like. A few days later she used those statements against me and bypassed all the technical flaws that we were supposed to revisit!!! All I could do was laugh.

Its not just this. I am sure each one of us has several incidents when we come across a blatant lie selling better than the truth, or the truth being the last nail on your coffin for the day. Honesty is often equated with ruthlessness. The most common class of incidents that I have faced are ones in which character X would say something and I would refute on the grounds of having data which would prove otherwise. They would try their bluff for one more time. When I go out and bring in the data they would yelp and call me ruthless or heartless or "E, you aren't the same guy I knew!"

What happened to truth? If people don't like being honest then why can't they rather accept it and admit to it. Why keep saying that people like the truth when they actually don't, or they like it as long as it serves them favourably?

Truth has become chattel and whore to a man's whim and it is unfortunate to my sensibilities. Truth has become a function of one's ego and insecurity and it is disappointing to see it become thus.

And then it is also a thing to be discarded if one of the debating parties is emotionally wrought. I have heard my mother say so many times, "Why do you wish to stick to it? See the poor girl is crying." and I would reply, "But then what about this matter at hand?" and I would be asked to take it with me to hell (no, not by mom. Mom never used the word hell!).

Once in college a guy and girl (and I think another couple too) who were going around were caught being inappropriate and it became a big issue. The guy was all set to rake in support and go against the senior batch which was planning to impose curbs on our batch in case the guilty party didn't come forth and apologise. He wasn't ready to apologise. For some strange reason, I was called upon to sort this matter (I think that is when the batch started considering me to be a pain). I stood before our entire class of tickled and nervous students and started thus, "I assume we are all serious. Now, let us get the facts of this together..." What came out was unacceptable to the man of the couple and his girl huffed and puffed and walked out. He came forth and said, "See what you have done now. You have got her so distressed that she is crying and has left the room (like I didn't notice!)" I had to assure him that all I was juggling here were facts and though the class agreed he never did and didn't speak to me for a long while.

I ask not for much but the last act of honesty from an unwilling soul, not more, just one act when they ponder long and finally decide whether they care about honesty or not and stick to it. Let us spare truth and not twist it. Please.

I think it helps at times to be a misanthrope like Mr. OrangeHead! :-)
Naaaah! Not worth it... :-D

11 comments:

  1. Hahahaha.
    And you say that you are not like Ayn Rand's characters?!! Misanthropic, yes. Stickler to facts, yes. Stickler to honesty, yes. No understanding of the human element in situations - yes yes yes. And still you claim you are not straight out of Ayn Rand's head?
    Truth will always out, Eroteme, and your post is evidence enough to that - you are hoist by your own petard.
    Have a joyous day. I am. :-D

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  2. Dear P,
    Now I am called a misanthrope? :-|
    :-D The human element is accommodated enough but not over and above truth... I didn't get what you mean when you say "Truth will always out". Did you mean "Truth will always lose out"? Yeah right!

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  3. No, Eroteme - "Truth will always out" means that "Truth will always be revealed" (in this case your true secret nature :D), howsoever suppressed or hidden it may be; eventually its own power of existence will expose it (truth that is).

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  4. Y do I get a strange feeling that I know this 'X' way too well!!!

    btw..u right, sometimes, being honest is bitter!

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  5. Sweet X,
    Noway is that X related to any particular character in this world!!! :-D It was a general statement. I thought if I picked any other alphabet someone would come back and ask me whether I was talking about them. I didn't expect an X to become victim to that... ;-p

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  6. i have *always* idealized ayn rand's characters but never been able to live upto them. reading your post i decided to re-read fountainhead :D

    in terms of honesty though, it becomes crazy if you try to associate honesty with some kind of good output - going forward in career etc. it depends too much on the parameters involved. and that is not how a matter of principle is argued.

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  7. Dear M,
    Really? :-o This post makes you want to re-read about OrangeHead? :-O
    I agree with you entirely in the falacy of associating honesty with good output. That is why I introduced that point at 2 places (this post was not about my philosophy so I didn't venture further) in this post. Overjoyed to notice that you are sharp to make that observation. Splendid!

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  8. "Why keep saying that people like the truth when they actually don't, or they like it as long as it serves them favourably?

    Truth has become chattel and whore to a man's whim and it is unfortunate to my sensibilities. Truth has become a function of one's ego and insecurity and it is disappointing to see it become thus." - Hi Eroteme, this is the line that iw as waiting for when i was reading through ur post on honesty and stupidity. though i could not have expressed myself better than this, but this is the truth, the way it unfolds before us. ur post appears simple in word content, but one would like to ruminate over for quite some time to recall moments when they have been honest, and moments when they have been stupid (including myself).

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  9. Aaah Fountain Head-One of a kind-U can love it or hate it. There is no grey. Now I am trying to be honest.....I could not get past the second paragraph of the post!!!! Too many words to convey same thing. Also very tiny fonts....my eyes hurt!!!!!

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  10. Dear A,
    Thank you thank you thank you... :-)

    Dear GI,
    I don't think the font size is a problem. I think it is a matter of senile decay... ;-p

    Dear M,
    Ah!

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