People in the Galt area feel so strongly about the importance of honesty, they selected it as one of the six most important character traits for our community. When the Galt Character Coalition conducted a community-wide survey of opinions about character, honesty was a near unanimous choice. For that reason, honesty is the character trait of focus every year for March and April in the Galt community.
There is still no more fundamental human trait than honesty. We associate honesty with people of honor, and we admire and trust those who are honest. Given the many serious challenges facing us these days that require honest analysis and accurate data to make decisions, it is more important than ever to act with honesty and speak truthfully.
Growing up, we learn about honesty from parents, teachers and from others who establish honesty as an expectation of great importance. Many of us learned about the consequences of dishonesty from the tale of the Boy Who Cried Wolf.
We also learned from our own mistakes, how we handled dishonesty, felt shame, made amends, and learned to never make that mistake again. We were held accountable for being honest. And we held ourselves accountable. We had a common understanding about truth and honesty. After all, honesty is a most basic core value, fundamental to all aspects of our lives and our society.
Honesty is a broader concept than many may realize, including these three dimensions:
1. Truthfulness – the obligation of truthfulness does not allow intentional misrepresentation of fact (lying). Being wrong is clearly not the same as being a liar, although honest mistakes can still damage trust because they may show poor judgment.
2. Sincerity – The obligation of sincerity does not allow half-truths, out of context statements, and even silence that are intended to create beliefs or leave impressions that are untrue or misleading.
3. Candor – In relationships involving expectations of trust, honesty may also require candor and frankness, imposing the obligation to volunteer information that another person needs to know.
Another aspect of honesty prohibits stealing, cheating, fraud, and playing tricks to deceive someone. Cheating is a particularly destructive form of dishonesty because cheaters not only seek to deceive but to take advantage of those who are not cheating. Consider the Olympic athletes who were denied medals, due to someone else cheating with performance enhancing drugs. Who can forget stories of a major league baseball team cheating to win the World Series by stealing signs? In these cases, the victims of cheating were not only the players who were denied fair competition. In fact, the corrosive effect of this dishonesty and cheating is a much larger affront to our national sense of right and wrong and basic fairness.
Honesty is a fundamental value of American life and life in our Galt community. Do you know someone who is a role model of honesty? We would like to hear their story and possibly honor them with a Community of Character Award. Please mail information about your nominee to Community of Character Coalition, P.O. Box 902, Galt, CA 95632. The deadline is April 30. Or, email information about your nominee to Ralph Cortez, firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include the name, address and phone number of your nominee, and a description of the actions that demonstrate honesty. You may nominate individuals, groups or organizations.