By Dedan Onyango.
Today I will try to shade some light on this fading aspect that makes us human, yet distant most of us; honesty. Before I take you far and wide into the realms of this fading virtue, I want to honestly make one thing clear, I am not honest! Yes that’s the truth, being honest is far much harder than being an outright liar!
So what does the word Honesty really means? According to world’s dictionaries, that have been penned by individuals who have remained ‘true’ (Honest) to the written word, they defined Honesty as: an act, quality, or condition of being honest. What! Did they just say? Being honest? So what is honest? Many people including me, are fond of this common cliché ‘In my honest opinion…!” these people of the world of letters continue and say: Honest is the state in which an Individual or Institution, “are scrupulous with regard to telling the truth, not given to swindling, lying or fraud ,in short just Upright”
Honesty is one of the greatest of all moral virtues. From it springs forms many of the noblest of human qualities like Integrity, Chastity and Valor just to mention but a few that make the Upright Human Personality. Honesty includes, doing the right thing in the right way at the right time.( This reminds me of my Physics Teacher, Madam Ibrahim, Live long teacher, live long). Honesty means objectivity in judgment, objectivity in assessment, and objectivity in decision of all types. Honesty is telling a handsome, six pack Man, and I don’t like you because you smell like garlic! You don’t need to hide this ladies!
Honesty is being true to oneself and the things that surround you. Honesty is telling a beautifully crafted damsel with silky Indian Hair (Not hers) that I don’t love you because you talk too much! Honesty traverses all boundaries that mankind is built. But your bet is as good as mine, being Honest in this 21st Century times is HARD! It is damn hard! So what do we do then?
We may want to draw some honest inspiration from the word of God. So what does the world religions say about being Honest? It is documented that Prophet Muhammad (SAW- peace be upon him) in his sermons is quoted, “Remember there is no faith in him who is not trustworthy, there is no place for him in religion who cares not for his pledged word or promise”. And the Holy Qur’an continues and says, “Oh ye who believe! Eat not each other’s property by unfair and dishonest means” (4: 29).
In Surah al saff Allah( Peace Be upon Him) warns us saying, “ O you who believe, why do you say what you do not do? It is loathsome indeed with Allah that you say what you do not do.” Therefore it is evident that in the Islamic Religion there is no room for being dishonest… however there are some special cases where one can be dishonest to another being especially if he is your foe.
The Holy bible on the other hand has dozens of verses that elucidates the necessity of Honesty. As the leading guide to Christianity, many Christians who purports to be Christians are called forth to be Honest. From the story of Creation, we meet Adam and Eve who failed the test, yes they both failed, they ate the forbidden fruit: in this world we have so many things that are forbidden, but because of our human nature, we fail to uphold this virtue. We resort to dishonesty. You could be wondering where the rains of dishonesty started beating us? The answers are all there in the Bible!
We may want now to look at a few verses on this area without much explanation. Humankind is not naturally honest (Psalm 116:11). Dishonesty has worldly rewards–lying can often bring financial gain, power, or temporary satisfaction. But the rewards come at a price. Dishonesty leads to more and more wickedness (Proverbs 17:4). Lying to fulfil worldly desires ultimately results in the loss of everything a person has, including his life. Hell’s inhabitants will include “all liars” (Revelation 21:8). “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36).
A person who knows the truth but (for whatever reason) says differently is a liar. The Bible emphasizes the importance of making true statements about God. To purposely misrepresent God is a serious offense. A liar is defined, first and foremost, as someone who denies that Jesus is the Christ (1 John 2:22). “Trusting in lies” is consistent with forgetting God (Jeremiah 13:25). And those who claim to know God but contradict Him, add to His words, or refuse to follow or accept His commands are also called liars (1 John 2:4; 5:10; Proverbs 30:6).
That said, for sometimes now, we Kenyans have been fighting or are appearing to be fighting, Corruption, Negative Ethnicity, Insecurity and Unemployment. Which is good! When our founding president took over the powers from the colonial Government, he said, that we as Kenyans we need to consolidate our energy in fighting, Poverty, Ignorance and Disease. He had such an elaborate plan in his mind for the country. However, when we as Kenyans were/are busy fighting all these that we thought/think are pulling us back, our Neighboring Country Tanzania, with their Founding Father- Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere resorted to uniting the divided country through his spirit of Socialism: Ujamaa.
So where did we go wrong? When Tanzanians took the lane of building values that would hold the county together and thus create a Nation, we as Kenyans took the lane of division. We became our own colonizers. Instead of building a Nation anchored on values we created a country that eats its own people. We are more of a country than a Nation! We are not honest to ourselves and our country. Ours is a man eat man society. Everyone for himself and God for us all! So to speak.
We many think that Tribalism, Corruption and all those problems that we have created for ourselves are the main course for our unending troubles, we are wrong and misled. Our main problem is, DISHONESTY! A good number of us are dishonest and that is a time bomb waiting to explode. It may have already exploded; it’s only that we have masked our vision not to see what lies underneath the surface. All see we are the surface rottenness. Yet our societal fabric anchored on values is mugged by murk and mud of dishonest individuals who are set out to make this county obsolete.
We need to be honest, if we want to have a prosperous country. We need to approach issues with the much needed openness. We need to develop values in the various institutions of our country. The leadership structure of this country need to uphold honesty and forgo deceit. If we are to defeat corruption, we need to be honest! If we are to unite this county and build a Nation, we must be honest to ourselves. If we are to create Employment, we need to come up with honest interventions. Unless we become honest, all that we are doing will be watered down the drain. Honesty is an individual entity. An honest society is created by honest individuals.
That said, honesty should always be accompanied by gentleness. An honest person is motivated by love, not by an obsession with relaying accurate information (Proverbs 19:22). Above all, the honest person is concerned with telling the truth about God and fostering the spiritual growth of other people (Ephesians 4:29).
Let us work together to build a Nation enshrined on moral virtues and not a country built on moral decadence .I propose that we fight these calamities, Corruption, Tribalism, Unemployment, and Insecurity by inculcating values in our human fabric. Honesty should form the basis of our interactions.
Dedan Onyango is the Founder of “ I LIVE 2 INSPIRE FOUNDATION.” And a concerned Kenyan. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org