In All Honesty . . . I’m a Tad Leery of National Honesty Day
Were you aware that today is National Honesty Day?
In all honesty though, when someone begins a sentence with “in all honesty” I cringe. Please, keep your complete honesty in check, my good sir or madam.
That sounds odd, I know. Let me explain.
Most of us grew up with frequent admonitions about honesty being the best policy, and while I detest dishonesty or pretense, and agree that being forthright is critical when it comes to ethical matters, there’s an important difference between honesty and providing an often hurtful, unrequested opinion: a concept that I’m not sure everyone has a handle on. Or if they do, they’re choosing to willfully disregard it.
Somewhere, somehow, some folks began supporting the unapologetically brazen and inaccurate interpretation of honesty that goes something like, “I’m not rude, I’m honest. I just speak what’s on my mind, even if most people can’t handle the truth.” But see, their “truth” i.e., opinion, might not be my “truth” i.e., opinion. And, frankly, with an attitude like theirs, I kind of hope it’s not.
Hypothetically, let’s say my friend, Mary, is delighted with her new pea green hand-shaped swivel chair that she got for a steal from the local thrift shop. I don’t need to tell her that I’m suddenly wondering how the Jolly Green Giant is getting along with his vegetable gardening gig since he apparently dropped one of his hands on her living room floor. Heck, as a matter of fact, I shouldn’t tell her that since it would only serve to offend her. What’s the point? We all have varied opinions and taste. She’s tickled with her new purchase, and it’s not hurting me or anyone else in the least, plus, she didn’t ask me what I thought about it. In this case, it’s all about “put your opinion in a baggie and zip it” because cruelty in the name of truth isn’t honesty, it’s still cruelty.
As I see it, “in all honesty” has become the au courant permission slip for passive aggressive snark to parade around masquerading as honest to goodness, helpful honesty. It’s similar to beginning a sentence with “I’m sorry, but.” Both phrases are merely false attempts to soften the blow of a future statement packed with all of the inherent gentleness of a sledgehammer.
Therefore, I would propose that if we intend to honor this day, we keep in mind that everything we see is perspective, not “the truth” and that there is still a line between being honest and being rude.