I really hate the expression, “honesty is the best policy”. I will be honest: I cannot think of a worse policy than honesty. That expression itself is a lie.
Well, best for whom? That is the question. I have a tendency to be extremely honest, and this has not been a good policy at all. If I could manage it (I can’t, for reasons I don’t understand), I would literally go with any other policy.
What most people don’t even notice is that we live in a culture of lies. Lies come so naturally to most people that I don’t even think they realize they are doing it half the time, and the other half of the time, they have an elaborate justification for it.
I wish people could be honest about lying so much. That, at least, would be refreshing. However, although admitting to the lies and to the fact that honesty is a losing policy on practically every level would be a relief to hear from others, I still do not advocate honesty. Why? For one thing 100% honesty tends to be cruel and cutting.
Honesty makes it harder for us all to get along harmoniously. Besides that, being honest gets you into trouble. For example if you commit a crime but they have insufficient evidence, but you are totally honest and say, “Yes. That was me. I should not have done it but I am totally guilty,” then your fate is FAR worse than if you lie or simply refuse to speak.
Clearly, honesty is a terrible policy. Even writing this post challenging the idea that honesty is good idea is probably a bad idea. That is why most people don’t say it I think. Don’t get me wrong.
I prefer to receive honesty from most people most of the time (although there are one or two people who could stand to cut down on their honesty a bit). I am simply saying that for us to say and believe that it is “the best policy” is delusional thinking.
Honesty is a bad habit, a thorn in my side, an ongoing life problem. And I have never known an honest person who could live both a normal and happy life. I am not sure it can be done.
I say all this not to depress you, but out of frustration with this shared delusion that being honest will lead to something other than friendlessness, poverty, and general unhappiness.
Being honest IS virtuous in many cases (when it is not cruel), but it is among the worst policies if we are honest about it. That is, assuming that a “good” policy is one that might lead to happiness and success. Honesty is much easier to keep track of. That is practically the only personally beneficial thing I can see about this “policy”. Honesty is the best policy? I don’t think so.