Truthfulness vs. deception

Earning future trust by accurately reporting past facts.

A truthful person gives a report that is faithful to the facts. This may be seen in actions as well as words. Truthfulness begins by being honest with oneself and acknowledging the facts of the situation. It is further expressed by choosing words carefully and giving precise information. Truthfulness is a personal commitment to accuracy – from the point of ones own perception to the perception of others. It is a commitment to seeing the truth accurately expressed and accurately understood.

As a young man, Abraham Lincoln was responsible for clearing a wooded area near his Kentucky home. One morning, without her mother’s permission, Abe’s sister Matilda followed him into the woods. After tracking him unseen for some time, Matilda suddenly dashed up behind Abe and leapt onto his back. As they fell to the woodland floor, Abe’s ax cut a deep gash in Matilda’s ankle. After calming his weeping sister, Abe asked, “What are you going to tell mother about getting hurt?”

“Tell her I did it with the ax,” Matilda sniffled. “That will be the truth, won’t it?”

“Yes,” Abe answered. “That’s the truth, but it’s not all of the truth. Tell the whole truth, Tilda, and trust your mother for the rest.” “Honest Abe” gently urged his sister to be forthright with her mother. Truthfulness refuses to hide behind lies, and a truthful person urges others to tell the truth as well.

Abe Lincoln had learned as a child to speak the truth, plain and simple. The strength to speak truthfully in the face of pressure only develops as one builds the habit of truthfulness in little things. Every individual is personally responsible for his or her own integrity. Abe Lincoln was honest at home and on the job, and he thereby developed the moral courage to be honest before the entire nation.

As parents, praise your children when they speak the truth, especially when they confess something that was difficult to admit. Teach your children that telling the truth is the basis for building trust in relationships. If trust is broken, it is much like a shattered glass bowl — very difficult to restore.

Brought to you by the Four Corners Character Council. Character First! Definitions and information used by permission. Copyright Character First Training Institute

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