A GUEST POST from my friend Hardik on his experience with honesty.
Two honest acts were termed as foolishness, unrealistic and even rebuked for not having value for money.
Act 1: A few days ago, while driving my car to pick my cousin from a hotel, a traffic policeman stopped me and asked to pay a fine for having tinted glasses on the car windows. I argued that it was within the limit as prescribed by law. Following my argument he showed me a detailed High Court judgement wherein it states of any usage of Photo film on car glasses is banned. I relented and was ready to pay the fine but he started asking me some random questions. After a few minutes, he bluntly offered to wrap the matter in Rs.50. I told him to issue me a penalty receipt for which I paid Rs. 200. He juggled over it and later looked sheepishly as I left.
Act 2: I had gone to pick up my cousin and his wife from a hotel. As we drove some distance, my cousin got a call from the hotel reception for a small unpaid amount because of miscalculation. He stopped the car and went back for payment before we went back home. He murmured about the bill amount but was satisfied with his action.
In both the above acts, opposite actions would have resulted in monetary benefit. However neither of us thought otherwise for no other reason except that we felt that was the right thing to do.
I shared these incidents with family, friends and relatives to understand their prospective or frankly speaking what they might have done. Most of them rebuked me for my actions and few taunted me also. They advised me to be practical in dealing with these situations and said that such actions would never yield any results.
I was appalled by this outcome and questioned my own actions. I discussed with a friend and here at least I found solace because of a different perspective – ethics, values and morality are for self and not a showpiece for others.
Honesty was one of first words taught in my school during Moral Science sessions. I also realized that most of the stories in literature deal with honesty and truth.
I recalled one incident when my young nephew found a big error in a restaurant bill and I asked him what he wanted to do with it. Smartly he gave me 2 choices – (a) monetary benefit and (b) honesty. When I selected (b), he smirked.
During my search for a life partner, I met many girls and in conversation regarding our expectations, they would always mention honesty as supreme above anything. Once, when I asked the meaning, one of them defined it as “always speaking truth, not hiding anything, being open, sharing everything…”
But what about honesty in daily action? What about doing the right thing even when it causes a personal loss?
Maybe the definition of honesty has narrowed just as we have narrowed our thinking in life.