Honesty defines our Character

A little story about honesty: when I was about fifteen years old, my parents went away leaving me on my own for a few days. I cannot recall where or why they went and, with only me as the youngest of their ten children left at home, they probably didn’t even think twice about it. All I thought was, ‘Yes – the house to myself.’ With it being term-time, I still had to get to school and that meant catching the train. On the first morning of ‘freedom’, I walked out of the house and headed for my usual commute only to realise, with horror, that I had locked myself out of the house.


Throughout my lessons that day my mind was distracted by thoughts about my first hurdle failure in maturity as well as, of course, my plans of how to reunite myself with the keys. How was I going to break into an Edwardian south-London semi without arousing suspicions? Despite my aptitude for shinning up drainpipes, I sensibly dismissed it as too risky in this instance in favour of my only real option – smash a window of a room in the cellar and break in.


Once inside, the next few days then resembled an old Yellow Pages advert – pull out the big book, scroll to the window-fitters section, explain the dilemma, hope they were trustworthy and scrape together the funds to pay them. By the time my parents returned there was not even a hint that their trust in me had been shattered a few days before.


Except for the guilt. The feeling of dishonesty, of not speaking up and letting them know what had happened, was overwhelming. I could have kept quiet; it wasn’t exactly a terrible crime and I had been resourceful in its resolution. And yet I knew they’d be disappointed if I didn’t own up. So I did, and I felt better in an instant. Strangely, I cannot now recall my parents’ reaction but I do vividly remember the feeling of relief, as if a weight had been lifted. And that is the thing about honesty – to move forward in life positively, one has to be honest with oneself. It is no good cutting corners; the only deception there, will be internal. One has to be honest because honesty defines our character and our character is who we really are, even when no-one is watching.

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