Friday, February 29, 2008

Tell the Truth.

Honesty always is a popular subject during political season. I've been meditating today, not so much about the sociopathic act of outright lying as about dissembling, deflecting and misdirecting, the political arts.

Among regular people, and even politicians, who regard themselves as fundamentally honest, there are two kinds of people. (Aren't there always?)

For one kind, when they are asked a question, their first thought is, "what's the right answer?" i.e., the true answer.

For the other kind of person, and this is where most politicians fall, their first thought is, "what's the most advantageous answer?" i.e., what answer will work out best for me.

The first kind of person may, upon bringing the true answer to mind, still dissemble if the stakes are sufficiently high and their principles are sufficiently low, but the second kind skips that step and goes right to formulating the most advantageous answer, regardless of its veracity. Such people may still tell the truth but when they do, it's mostly a coincidence. Their calculation of the best answer happens also to be the true one.

I consider myself to be of the first type, but I don't take credit for it. For both types, which you are is mostly a function of how you were raised. The second type of response is probably the most intuitive so unless you are taught at a young age to think the first way, you probably won't.

Both of my parents stressed honesty with us and, most importantly, they walked the talk, my father especially. He is so honest he once carried on a spirited fight with the IRS to convince them that he owed more than they said he did, and he was pleased when he finally won the argument.

His first thought is "what's the true answer" and, unfortunately, his second thought is usually, "what's the most thorough answer."

I've inherited that as well.

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