Be Honest

Be honest,
even if others are not;
even if others will not;
even if others cannot.

I noticed these words, plastered on a billboard, in one of my out-of-town court hearings. No life-changing flow of thought occurred at that very moment, maybe because I was busy praying that the tricycle I hired reach the airport on time (the hotel car was gone by the time I woke up and there are no cabs in Tacloban). I missed the flight by 30 minutes and got to reflect while waiting at the airport for the next flight.

I was tempted to say that being honest means speaking the truth. Come to think of it, honesty and the truth are not necessarily the same. The Church honestly believed that the earth is the center of the solar system. Of course, we now know that this isn’t true, and we heard from Shyra (or was it Shira?), the gifted child, that the sun is the center of the solar system. Honesty refers to what we know or do not know. The truth refers to the veracity of what we know.

Be honest. This is not an easy task. It’s easier for some to circumvent this commandment by creating a distinction between a “white lie” and an outright (“black”?) lie. Some women lie about their age. Some men lie about their marital status or sexual preference. Some officials lie about elections, among others. The hard truth is, it’s difficult to be honest. Perhaps we should ask Jun Lozada about this.

Difficult as it is to be honest, it becomes more difficult when we see others who are not. The difficulty is two-fold. First, why should we remain (assuming that we are) honest when others get away with dishonesty? Second, what should we do when dishonesty stares us in the eye? Should we blink and just wait for others to blow the whistle? Should we speak out and risk retaliation? Should we, who are not without sin, cast the first stone?

Well, if you know the answers, please let me know. I’ll give you a reward — honest.

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