For though we love both the truth and our friends, piety requires us to honor the truth first. – Aristotle
What does that mean?
For the sake of this quote, we will use an alternate (and older) definition for piety, which normally has religious overtones. TheFreeDictionary.com defines the term ‘piety’ (from pious) as meaning “Duty; dutifulness; filial reverence and devotion; affectionate reverence and service shown toward parents, relatives, benefactors, country, etc.”
Basically, the quote is saying that in a contest between truth and our friends, our obligation is to the truth. The use of the terms duty and filial reverence imply that the truth is to be as close to our hearts as the dearest members of our family.
This quote says your first obligation is to the truth, even if it causes some temporary pain for your friends. This is the quote that applies when your friend’s wife calls and asks if he is there, he is, and you know he shouldn’t be. Where would your loyalties be?
Why is being truthful important?
Consider where you would be if you turned the quote around, and favored your friends over the truth. How long do you think it would take for everyone to realize what a self-serving, brown-nosing, butt-kissing, tool of a person you were?
Everyone would soon figure out that you’ll say anything to anyone, and it will appear to be strictly for your gain, even if you’re trying to favor your friends over the truth. If you’ve never known one in person, you’ve seen them on TV or in movies, right? Not very pretty, is it?
I’m not talking about the little things, like not being forceful or truthful when asked an opinion, and instead deferring to the preference of another. I’m talking about full-on weasel mode, saying whatever you think the other person wants to hear.
Where can I apply this in my life?
Some might call this the first of the ‘tough love’ quotes. The truth isn’t always pleasant. Would you tell a friend that the person they were going out with was seen in the company of another, in a romantic embrace? It might be an old friend, or it might be an old flame. Does your friend deserve to know, or will you be kind to them?
But if you are ‘kind’ to them, and not tell them, and they find out later, how much more painful will it be for them to handle? And how much worse than that if they find out you knew, but failed to tell them? Will the reason why you withheld the information matter to them?
There are a myriad of possible scenarios one could imagine, but at this point, I’d like you to think back to times when you withheld the truth from someone else, when someone else withheld the truth from you, and when you saw someone else withhold the truth from someone else.
When you were the one lying to a friend, what were your reasons, your justifications, and your excuses for doing it? How well did it turn out for you, and for them? If you had the chance to do it again, would you do the same thing, or would you do something it differently?
When you were the one being lied to by a friend, how did you feel when you found out the truth? How did you feel when you found out that others knew, but didn’t tell you? What excuses did they offer for their behavior? Did you accept any of their excuses? How badly did it damage your friendship?
The most interesting case, in my mind, is when you know one friend is not being truthful to another friend. Speaking the truth will hurt both of them, won’t it? Do you approach the liar, and try to convince them to tell the truth? Do you go directly to the person lied to, and straighten them out, and let the chips fall where they may?
How have you dealt with this in the past? How would you deal with those situations if you could do them over again? What would you do, today, if faced with a similar situation? It’s not a pleasant thought, but it’s likely to happen again at some point in your life, isn’t it?
What to do is an individual choice, and the object is to be as truthful as possible. While it is possible to always be truthful, you won’t get invited to too many parties, will you? But the same goes for one who is rarely truthful. As usual, the best path is somewhere between, and will be very personal in nature. It might also change with the situation or the person.
But if you think about it now, are you more or less likely to come to a better decision than if you just react on the spot? Examine your life, and plan for the future. I have found it a worthy activity, and I hope you do as well.
From: Twitter, @OprahsQuotes
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/aristotle397489.html
Photo by Ed Yourdon