An old post I wrote before my blog was up and ready to go:
Truth is a virtue that has been valued by many people. Perhaps it is valued highly because it is a constant in an unpredictable world or that truthful communications can prevent misunderstandings and pain. In our time, though, we see evidence of many people without integrity seeking advantage over others. Thus it is beneficial to question if there is ever a time for dishonesty and with whom would you choose to be less than honest.
As I pondered this idea, I remembered Captain Moroni in the Book of Mormon. He was a man of truth yet he was not afraid to use stratagem, a plan or scheme for deceiving an enemy, in war to protect his people and take back their cities and captured people. The case of sending wine to the Lamanites so they would sleep, be easily surrounded in the night, and the prisoners armed was particularly interesting. A man was sent to bring them wine who was truly a Lamanite. Yet they were not truthful (but this occurs to me that a wise man like Captain Moroni probably did have his soldiers go to bed early so they could be rested for the conflict to come and awaken them at just the right time as the spies could let them know how close the enemy was to falling in a drunken stupor) when they told the Lamanite guards Moroni’s army was all sleeping. Stratagem seems to be a regular tactic in war so should not be entirely unexpected from an enemy. I think Captain Moroni is especially justified in this instance because he had recently tried to openly exchange prisoners with their enemies and, as Moroni writes afterwards, the Lamanite king was seeking to deceive everyone about his reasons for war. In conclusion, when dealing with enemies it is good strategy to use some of the same tactics your enemy does so that you are fighting on more equal ground (especially when defending family and freedom).
But how do we respond in situations that test our honesty when we are not dealing with an enemy but with loved ones? It may help to take a deeper look at the different meanings of the word dishonesty. I believe there is never a reason to cheat or betray. Violating trust will lead to distrust which can deeply harm a relationship. Deceit is another definition of dishonesty that means seeking to conceal or misrepresent the truth. Deceit could be mistaken or confused for tact: the skill of knowing how to deal with others and not offend. In an attempt to not offend or anger a loved one, I have, in the past, misrepresented my own feelings. I’ve realized this dishonesty actually hurts others because not acknowledging my own motives or needs misleads them to feel they are the only one hurting or seeking improvement. As I have tried to be more honest in a loving way and taking responsibility for my mistakes, I have found that even though things can be temporarily painful the relationship can grow much more. I still am uncertain though how the truth would have been received in the past and realize that learning new communication skills opened the way to speaking the truth in love. I believe that with love and prayer questions on how to proceed in truth with loved ones can be resolved well.
Of all the people we interact with the one we should never be dishonest with, besides God, is ourselves. For how can we be truly honest with others if we do not even know our own minds, emotions, or motives? The search to discover who we truly are and become courageously truthful with ourselves may be one of our greatest quests in life. I don’t mean to imply only looking out for our own interests and desires but searching for that divine spark, that higher self who is who we really are and really can become. In finding this truth we are freed to serve God and others with our whole selves.
Delving into the meanings of dishonesty has led me to inquire what truth means to me. I believe truth is one of the principle virtues and one should never deviate from it lightly. The safety of our families and our freedoms may at times be more important than wanting to not deceive or mislead an enemy but at other times truth may be exactly what is needed. The words of William Faulkner have moved me to recommit to courageous defense of all virtues while standing in the truth of my convictions: “Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.”