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©2000 Zhan Huan Zhou
Updated Sep-01-2000

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What a LIfE

©2000 Zhan Huan Zhou, Spring 2000, Issue 4

Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. - Thoreau

Way back, as far as I can remember, one thought has been etched into my brain. It came from my parents, my kindergarten teachers, and even Sesame Street. It is the centuries old adage that "honesty is the best policy." Most of us have lived by these words for the larger part of our lives. From the moment we say our first words, we are told that those words should be the truth. Lying, we are told, is bad thing. But lost in all this ruckus of recounting the truth of the facts we have experienced, there are some finer details lost in the sea of truths.

We must first ask ourselves why honesty is inherently a good moral to have. The answer to this is quite simple. Honesty establishes integrity and trust with others. Integrity and trust are the cornerstone of any interdependent relationship. It can take years to build up integrity and trust, but a single lie can destroy it in a matter of seconds. Once broken, it may be impossible to rebuild that bridge. But honesty not only affects others, but also our inner selves.

Even though we may live what is referred to as an "honest life," we are in fact living a lie. We all live a lie. It would be a lie to say we don't live a lie. The perfect example is the co-op student resume. Are you really that proficient in C++ programming? Did you actually design and implement the entire device yourself? In some cases, these statements may be quite legitimate, but the fact of the matter is that many truths are quite stretched. Even more dangerous than lying about ourselves to others is lying to ourselves. By lying to ourselves, we lose touch with who we really are on the inside. Our own sense of self is vanquished and replaced by a phony shell. I could probe deeper into this issue, but I'll let you ponder this situation on your own. Reflect on your own life and I guarantee that you will be able to relate to this matter. I hope that you can find that lying to oneself is not a healthy habit.

Finally, there are times when the truth can be painful. Quite often, these are times when people blatantly point out the lies in our lives that we've tried so hard to hide. At other times, the truth about someone you care about is revealed, shaking the foundation of your relationship with that person. It is times like then when you have to question if honesty really the best policy? Perhaps "if the truth serves no other purpose than to inflict pain, then don't say it at all" are better words to live by.

Is honesty really that important to our lives? I believe it is, that's why I've always been looking for the truth. The truth to what, I do not know, but I'll know when I find it and I hope you find it too.