I may choose to ignore anonymous comments. I consider this type of anonymity dishonest. Also, I don't post regularly. I post when I have something worth writing and something worth reading. I explain all this in: Don't Let Telling Tales Trip Up Your Truthfulness.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mormons and Honesty: Part 4: Honesty and Others

Most people are too stupid to lie convincingly. There is always going to be some sort of inconsistency in any lie. Someone, somewhere is going to pick up on the inconsistency and detect the lie. Lying simply isn't worth it, on a moral or rational level.

Most deceit is small, often called "white lies" because they are seen as harmless. But lies are never harmless. If the truth has somehow been skewed then there will be consequences.

Some of Christ's strongest condemnations were directed at hypocrites. Hypocrisy is intentional deception. You obviously know what is right and you want to make people believe you do what is right even though you know you don't.

The first time I encountered hypocrisy was memorable. It was in Primary. We were supposed to find a non-Mormon schoolmate and bring them to Primary. I asked a friend to come with me. She consented.However, it turns out she was a member after all, just inactive. Quite distressed, I explained to the teacher, during class, that I'd found out on the way to Primary that my guest was Mormon. I told her, "Everybody I know is Mormon except the blacks and the Mexicans." She responded with, "Well, for Heaven's sake, leave them alone."

My explanation was no more politically correct than hers but at least I was a kid. I was silenced thinking, "But everyone is a Child of God, that includes the blacks and the Mexicans. We should value them equally, shouldn't we?" I was perplexed because her remark contradicted what I had been taught about the gospel. Later on in the class period she directed her remarks to me once more and said she was sorry for her remark and that everyone was equally a Child of God.

I didn't know what to make of her. I remember thinking to myself, "She's towing the party line now but I think her first comment was the honest one."

Overt hypocrisy is unmistakable. Society often rewards it because society values niceness more than honesty. This is a nice move on Satan's part. Elevating niceness over honesty sells much better than many of the alternatives.

My honesty has lost me dates, relationships and a myriad of other things. Instead of taking what I said at face value people seem to decide there is a hidden message. They assume my meaning from what their meaning would be if they said the same thing. I'll give you an example. I've told guys that I'm too tired to continue with a date and that I need to go home so I can sleep. They thought I was blowing them off. Instead, I was entirely truthful. Many times, I said something like, "Oh, can we postpone doing that when we would have more time to enjoy it?" I meant what I said. But, they assumed something else because honesty is so rare.

Going down the scale from hypocrisy is rationalization. And here is where most of us trip up. We try and rationalize our mistakes or behavior to others so they will think better of us. It is simply weakness on our part because people always think better of us when we admit mistakes rather than try and escape them.

Much of our deceit comes from trying to be funny. Stories are embellished and exaggerated to get more laughs. Have you ever tried to be honest and funny at the same time? It isn't easy. I don't change my stories but I sure get a lot of mileage out of them. If you move a lot, you've got a whole batch of new people to try them on.

A good chunk of what we are guilty of is unintentional deception. Verbal communication is imperfect. Non-verbal is even worse. People are going to interpret our miscues and misfires inappropriately. It says more about them than it does about us.

I assume people are honest unless I have reason to believe otherwise. Yes, it gets me into trouble. Once I detect a deception, I hone in on it and am extra vigilant with that person.

Why are we so unwilling to let others know we detect their deceit? There goes the "niceness" again. If you do let them know then the mask comes off and they are their true self. I prefer it. At least I know what I'm dealing with -- an enemy for life.

Let people know they are too stupid to lie convincingly. Nice.

Mormons and Honesty: Part 1: Introduction

Mormons and Honesty: Part 2: Honesty and the Church

Mormons and Honesty: Part 3: Honesty and Society

Mormons and Honesty: Part 4: Honesty and Others

Mormons and Honesty: Part 5: Honesty and Ourselves

Mormons and Honesty: Part 6: Conclusion

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Mormons and Honesty: Part 3: Honesty and Society

Occasionally I see a coin on the ground, a penny for example. I might be walking into the grocery store, a restaurant or just in any store.

Most people would pick up the coin.

I don't know who the coin actually belongs to. I don't know how it got lost. I can be pretty sure whoever it belongs to won't come back for it or even find it if they did. Others are very likely to pick it up whether it is theirs or not. There is only one thing I can be sure of.

It isn't mine. . . 

Most people can be bought. It is just a question of price.

Would you sleep with someone for a million dollars? Would you sleep with someone for one dollar? If you do the deed based on the amount of money it is just a question of price. If you do the deed at all then it is established what you are.

If keeping your anonymity can determine whether you engage in a particular act then you are not honest. Honesty is  based on whether you do the deed at all.

If your behavior changes based on who you are with, where you are, the time of day, or whether you think you will be caught, then you are not honest.

Daily deceptions in society usually aren't particularly overt. We live in houses that we can't afford. We drive vehicles we can't afford. We wear clothes we can't afford. Few will ever know of our deceptions.

We tell people they look nice. We tell people we are glad to see them. We tell people to have a nice day. We tell people a lot of things we don't really mean.

Have you ever considered how many deceptions, socially acceptable deceptions, you engage in in one day alone? Isn't the cumulative effect horrendous?

Our society is becoming more and more tolerant of dishonesty. Are we becoming more dishonest with it?

Honesty won't make us popular.

Is popularity more important to us than honesty?

If we live in a home we can truly afford, drive a car that is paid for and wear clothes that are plain and of our own make what is wrong with that?

Simple. It won't get us where we want to be in society, or impress who we want to impress, even if it is only ourselves. See my prior posting on The Counterfeit Self.

How honest are you with society? Maybe it is time to really think about it and make some course corrections.

Clean up your language so you aren't making a lot of statements you don't mean. Clean up your behavior so you aren't doing a lot of things you should regret.

Start living honestly and commit to living honestly in the future.

Mormons and Honesty: Part 1: Introduction

Mormons and Honesty: Part 2: Honesty and the Church

Mormons and Honesty: Part 3: Honesty and Society

Mormons and Honesty: Part 4: Honesty and Others

Mormons and Honesty: Part 5: Honesty and Ourselves

Mormons and Honesty: Part 6: Conclusion

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mormons and Honesty: Part 2: Honesty and the Church

Suggesting that Mormons may not be honest regarding Church is not going to make me popular. However, I'm suggesting just that. And, I've suggested it before. See my blog posting that was part of my series on Local Church Leaders and Corruption.

We like to think that our local congregations (called wards) are doing well and achieving good statistics on things like attendance, contributions, etc. although this may not actually be the case. If we misrepresent our numbers this is statistical lying. As I've pointed out before, misrepresenting the numbers is usually easy to spot because our statistics will lack internal consistency.

For example, if we claim to have a lot of people interested in our Church by reporting high numbers of people getting missionary lessons, but we have no resulting baptisms, then something is wrong.

Another example, if we report high numbers of Church attendance but the numbers of temple-worthy members is going down then something is wrong.

If we claim we have certain numbers then certain measurable achievements should be evident.

Most members have some sort of "calling" or Church job. If we aren't doing our job, or doing it properly, then this is dishonest. If we glory in our title and power and neglect our calling we are much to close to Lucifer's model.

Lying to make ourselves look good in the Church is just as bad as lying to make others in the Church look bad. I'm not going to go into this right now. It is a another soap box for another day.

One of the things I do to keep others honest is blind copy. It amazes me how many people don't know how to do that. Anyway, I blind copy others on correspondence, especially Church correspondence, so that no one can misrepresent what I say or do.

However, this will only work if you are honest yourself. It works for me.

For example, if a conversation starts to get heated, I back off and try and give myself time to reduce my ideas to just logic and reason. I strip the emotion out of it.

I blind copy Church leaders, sometimes local and stake, on the correspondence. This way they read exactly what I said. No one can misrepresent me.

I will admit that I get a certain amount of satisfaction out of this. People are in for a rude awakening if they think they can lie about me.

I wish I didn't have to do it, but, unfortunately, I do.

Mormons and Honesty: Part 1: Introduction

Mormons and Honesty: Part 2: Honesty and the Church

Mormons and Honesty: Part 3: Honesty and Society

Mormons and Honesty: Part 4: Honesty and Others

Mormons and Honesty: Part 5: Honesty and Ourselves

Mormons and Honesty: Part 6: Conclusion

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mormons and Honesty: Part 1: Introduction

Complete honesty is necessary for our salvation. President Brigham Young said, “If we accept salvation on the terms it is offered to us, we have got to be honest in every thought, in our reflections, in our meditations, in our private circles, in our deals, in our declarations, and in every act of our lives” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young [1997], 293).
It also poses the question, "What would society be like if everyone were perfectly honest?" The answer is that society would be very different. We spend a great deal of time and money trying to keep people honest.

As Mormons, how do we measure up? Not well, I think. Why? That will be the subject of this new series that I anticipate having at least six parts.

When I was in Seminary in 9th grade, my instructor told us a story. I'll try and relate it as best as I can. The Church was making a movie. The movie was supposed to open with the President of our Church writing on some paper and then looking up and speaking to the camera. Before it was filmed, the President, who I think was Joseph Fielding Smith, at the time, signed the papers because he realized they were official and needed his signature. When it came time to film he told them he had already signed the papers. They told him, "Okay, then act like you are signing them and we will film that." He protested, "I cannot deceive anyone." They quickly found him some more papers to sign.

Whether true or not, this story deeply touched me. This is a high standard of honesty. In True to the Faith we read:
The thirteenth article of faith states, "We believe in being honest." To be honest means to be sincere, truthful, and without deceit at all times.
As Mormons, we are subject to the same follies and foibles as other people. We constantly lapse into dishonesty without really thinking about it, for many reasons. Society rewards dishonesty in many ways. Little white lies, as they are called, seem more acceptable to us than actually telling the truth.

This dishonesty pervades more of our lives than we realize. It is time to reform ourselves and be completely honest, with the Church, with society, with others and with ourselves.