Honesty is the first aspect that builds trust between colleagues at the work place. While I insist on honesty being paramount, it is quite remarkable to see how it stands to be one of the most compromised values that one holds. At the risk of being pessimistic about values, I do believe that honesty becomes a by-stander when it pressure is on and the delivery of products are at risk. Far too often have I seen honesty about the product quality, about timelines and processes being fudged underneath words. The power of a word is more powerful than a sword, as the cliche goes. True enough. Meetings and written exchanges between people are powerful reminders of this cliche.
Of course, as a “realist”, circumventing honesty at a sufficiently high level is termed as strategy. So it is a strategic move when India does not discuss the CTBT treaty (if I remember correctly) in public while it is being signed. It is strategic when the Indian army misuses the Armed Forces Special Provisions Act in Assam and other North Eastern states but nothing is done to address the well reported misdemeanors. It is also strategic when Sreesanth claims that he confessed to his spot fixing crimes to the police under duress. This after he had been found guilty by the BCCI.
Undoubtedly, being honest is difficult. It is so difficult that Mahatma Gandhi aptly named his autobiography The Story of My Experiments with Truth. How did he know that it was an experiment? Being truthful and honest is an experiment in many ways, after all. We have every intention of being honest and truthful at all times but there is undeniably an element of experience that speaks for us and possibly accounts for the dishonesty. Kids are often punished for speaking mistruths or lies. The punishment steels them to lie some more the next time and find more effective ways of doing it. Lying without being caught becomes the mantra. We become so good at it that sometimes it becomes who we are as a person!
As adults, the least that we can do is at least be honest with the mirror. If honesty is not practiced in front of the mirror, it is highly unlikely that we could be honest with the outside world. Let’s start from within, let’s start looking at ourselves in the face and being ruthlessly honest about our misgivings and fears. Maybe this is how a revolution starts. Maybe this is how as a society we make a beginning at being improving ourselves.