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Whatever Happened to Truthfulness?, by Ron Rose

    Telling the truth in spite of the circumstances is a marker of adulthood. It’s a sign of maturity that deserves to be encouraged and rewarded.

    When our girls were growing up we had an honesty rule at our house. Simply put, it was: “It will always go better for you if you tell the truth.” Over the years that rule was challenged and even bent a little, but it still stands.

    When Julie was in second grade her two-year-old sister, Joy, was constantly informing us of Julie’s behavior. On one occasion, Joy ran in the room yelling, “Julie did it. Julie broke it. Julie’s in trouble.” Following close behind, Julie was secretly wishing her sister would be struck speechless.

    With Joy leading the way, we headed towards the bedroom. There on the floor was a broken pitcher, two paper cups, and a mysterious wet spot on the carpet. Both girls knew the rule about no food or drink in the bedroom. Pointing the finger of blame to her sister, Joy repeated, “Julie did it. She broke it.” Joy didn’t realize it at the time, but she was pulling the classic blame and distract tactic that is so popular today.

    While Mom cleaned up the glass and tried to get the juice out of the carpet, I sat on the bed and talked with the girls. Both of them knew the rule and both had broken the rule. With tears filling Julie’s eyes, she told how they had helped themselves to a pitcher of juice and crackers while they were playing house. It was supposed to be a secret, but once they finished the crackers, she had accidentally knocked the pitcher off the table. She was sorry and embarrassed and afraid of the consequences. Without missing a beat she added, “But Dad, I told the truth! Remember you said it always goes better if you tell the truth!”

    “You’re right, Julie, and I’m proud of you for telling the truth. And because you did, it will be better," I replied. “But, you still broke the rule and so did Joy. So, no TV tonight, and you will both have to apologize to Mom for breaking the rule. This carpet is a mess. Do you see why we have the rule?”

    Both girls nodded their heads. “Julie, if you hadn’t told the truth it would have been far worse, believe me.” I turned to Joy and explained, “Joy, you did wrong, too. Blaming Julie doesn’t make it better for you. You’ll have to go to bed 30 minutes early tonight. You broke the rule just as much as Julie did.”

    Once more I reminded them, “Breaking the pitcher was an accident, but sneaking it into the bedroom was wrong.”

    “I know, I’m sorry Dad,” Julie replied.

    “Me, too,” Joy added, “and I’m glad Julie remembered to tell the truth.”

    In government, in sports, in court, and in families, there seems to be a number of people who either never learned the honesty rule or they have forgotten it. For them, lying has become a necessary skill, almost an art form. Many have gotten so good at misrepresenting the truth that they are believing their own lies. The people who refuse to deal with truth are stuck in childhood. They blame and distract and point fingers, like two-year-old Joy did. For them, lying is a way of life. They lie to...

avoid embarrassment,
hide mistakes,
escape consequences,
inflate their image, and
mislead others.

    It will always go better for you if you tell the truth.I’ve always thought being truthful was a revealing measure of adulthood, being a grown-up. It still is, but it’s a shame we have so many children walking around in adult bodies. When real men and women have to face embarrassment, or mistakes, or consequences, when they have a choice to mislead those around them, or inflate the facts, they choose to be responsible, to be adult, even if it hurts.

    Where are the adults who, in spite of the circumstances, act like adults? Where are the people who still honor truthfulness?

    They can be found in homes like yours all across this country. They don’t gather media attention. They refuse to be taken in by the lure of lying. In spite of everything, they have become responsible everyday heroes still teaching their children that it will go better for them if they tell the truth. Let’s encourage them. Let’s reward them.

    I'm tired of standing by silently while our society is unraveled by spin-doctors and misspoken leadership. It’s time to hold our public leaders to at least the same level of accountability we expect from our children. If they lie, they face the full force of public fury. If they tell the truth in spite of what their damage control people recommend, then they discover unexpected public mercy.

    How refreshing it would be for our public leaders to speak the truth without spin or distraction. Our children deserve a world where honesty is rewarded and dishonesty is scorned. We may not be able to change public policy this week or this year, but give us 7 to 10 years of rewarding and encouraging truthfulness and we will make a difference. Begin now! Search for honesty where you live and reward it, encourage it, and share it. And, level tougher consequences when the truth is not told. Remember the rule, “It will always go better if you tell the truth.”


HEARTLIGHT(R) Magazine is a ministry of loving Christians and the Westover Hills church of Christ.
Edited by Phil Ware and Paul Lee.
Copyright © 1996-97, Heartlight, Inc., 8332 Mesa Drive, Austin, TX 78759.
Article copyright © 1998, Ron Rose. Used by permission.
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