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Previous Story: Dishonesty – The better policy

Author Unknown Trust is like a piece of paper. Once it's crumpled, it can't be perfect again"It was a well-knit speech, beautifully delivered," Rosh sighed.

"But don't you think it is interesting that you advocate dishonesty, yet expect honesty in return?"

"Dishonesty is an umbrella term, while your speech was mostly about lying."

"So let's begin with the question of lying, and see what our ancients had to say about that, cos surely lying must be as old as man himself."

"Manu Smriti states:
सत्यं ब्रूयात्, प्रियं ब्रूयात्  (Satyam bruyaat, Priyam bruyaat)
न ब्रूयात् सत्यं अप्रियं      (Na bruyaat satyam apriyam)
प्रियं च नानृतम् ब्रूयात    (Priyam cha nanritam bruyaat)
एषः धर्मः सनातनः"       (Eshah Dharmah sanaatanah)

"It means: Speak the truth. Speak what is pleasant. Do not speak the unpleasant truth. Do not speak the pleasant lie. That is the eternal way, sanatan dharm."

"Manu has been an authoritative figure in Hindu thought for centuries. Like Moses, he created a morality guide for an individual. On speech, he did not limit guidance to just being truthful. How you speak it, was important too."

"Priyam can mean endearing, pleasant or pleasing. Apriyam is unpleasant and hurts. Bruyaat means to speak. Satya is Truth in Sanskrit and Asatya is untruth. So one must speak the truth, yet be careful in how one speaks it. How to speak brutal truths then?"

"An Indian King invited a famous visiting astrologer to study his horoscope and tell him about his future."

"The astrologer was quite learned. He studied it thoroughly and did his calculations well. Finally, he gave his verdict."

"Raja," he said. "All your relatives will die before you. You will burn their funeral pyres with your own hands."

"The King's temper flared. He was very attached to his relatives and could not tolerate the thought of having to burn the bodies of his dear sons and wife with his own hands. In a fit of fury, he unsheathed his sword and struck down the astrologer dead."

"Years passed and time dismissed this gruesome memory from the collective minds. Another famous astrologer came visiting to his kingdom. The King chanced upon this news. Curious to know his future again, he summoned the visiting scholar to his court."

"This astrologer also studied the King's horoscope thoroughly and did his calculations well. He came to the same conclusions as the previous astrologer."

"Raja," he said, "you have a very long life. All your relatives are very fortunate that you will be there to comfort and care for them in the dusk of their lives."

"This also meant that all his relatives would die, while the King was still alive. And that he would have to burn their bodies himself, according to Hindu Rites Of Passage. But the prediction that he would be there to look after them till the very end greatly pleased the King. He richly rewarded this astrologer."

"So, brutal truths can be spoken with tact and empathy. Lying is not a better alternative to speaking unpleasant truths, silence is. Even while debating for the sake of debating, be careful which outcomes you promote. Lest they come back to taint your reputation and haunt you for the rest of your life."

"Suggestions have great power. We should plant them in young minds with great care. If dishonesty seems so lucrative but we want an honest world, why don't we shape a society that rewards honesty more. Wouldn't that be a better alternative than all of us becoming collectively dishonest."

"Dishonesty is not as widespread either, as you infer. In capturing that students lied once every 3 minutes, the Feldman study also showed that for the rest of those 3 minutes they did not lie, a statistic much bigger, more statistically significant, and no less sensational."

"It proves there is more truth than untruth being spoken. Maureen O'Sullivan once said, 'It takes more work to tell a lie than it does to tell the truth'. So, you can see that lying doesn't come naturally to us. It is an acquired habit."

"Strangely enough," Maureen went on to say, "despite the frequency with which we lie, we are pretty bad at it. Lying – at least the intentional kind – isn't easy. You have to not only make up something, but also watch me to make sure I believe you."

"Truth is easier. You don't have to worry about its credibility. To believe or not to believe it, becomes the other guy's problem. And truth doesn't keep you awake at night, worrying that you will be caught. So, it's healthier for you."

"People are easily fooled. There is no Pinocchio's nose," says Paul Ekman, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California, San Francisco. "There's no sign that is always present when someone lies, and always absent when someone is truthful."

"Given that humans aren't great at detecting deception, we should have become wary of trusting each other after almost three million years of interacting with each other."

"But, according to the same psychology professor, Robert Feldman, whose research you quoted, our default assumption is that people are telling the truth."

"Relationships – of love or commerce – rely on trust. Trust may be given easily in the first place, but once broken, it is quite hard to earn it back."

"Abraham Lincoln used to say: You can fool all of the people some of the time, and you can fool some of the people all of the time; but you can't fool all of the people all the time."

"As for animals. While they may cheat for mating rights and feed, the rest of their lives are generally unpretentious. The human animal evolved by doing better than them. So why stop now? Animals had no Moses or Manus to guide them with moral commandments."

"If Honesty was an inferior policy truly, what kind of world would we have created over the millennia? A dishonest world, where self-interest was the sole commandment."

"Let's take a moment to visualize whether this is the world you live in today. Do you have a:"

"1. Disloyal wife. Says: 'I love you baby!' Then ditches you next day.
2. Dishonest teacher. Says: 'Your speech is cool!' Then fails you.
3. Unreliable parent. Says: 'I'll pay for your needs!' Then always bails out in self-interest.
4. Crafty employer. Says: 'Great work!' Then pays you peanuts and never gives a raise."

"A totally corrupt society where no principle is sacrosanct, no promise believable and no right secure, is unlivable. There can be no place to hide if all neighbours become diabolical and all colleagues demonic. Man would know no peace in such a place, and his offspring could have no future."

"Do you want your children to grow up and be rip-off artists, freeloaders, cheats and liars because it seems profitable to be so. Would you rather be visiting them in prison because work sucks and won't allow them visitors?"

"Do you want them to be deceivers to be winners instead of being honest losers. Do you? ... Do you really?"

Next Story: Looking After Your Pennies

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