Purpose: To show that honest is still the best policy.  


The Lesson


An honest man is the noblest work of God.
Pope, Essay on Man IV


Ay, sir: to be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.
Shakespeare, Hamlet


He that resolves to deal with none but honest men must leave off dealing.
Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia


Do you remember the story of George Washington and the Cherry Tree?
Well, young George got a new hatchet and decided to test it. He targeted a cherry tree and chopped it down. His father came out of the house and said, “George, who cut down my cherry tree?”


George bowed his head and said, “I cannot tell a lie. I did, Father.”


I’m too old to remember what happened next. I think the story goes that George was not punished as a reward for telling the truth. We might get punished when we tell the truth, but we still were honest and told the truth.


How about Abraham Lincoln? Do you remember that story?      


It seems that a lady came to the store where Honest Abe was working and forgot sixteen cents in change. When the store closed, Abraham Lincoln walked several miles to return the change to the  lady.


I think that is the way the story goes.


What gratitude did he get for that? Maybe she fed him supper. I don’t know. But I’m sure that as he walked home, he felt good that he had returned her change.


Why didn’t Abraham Lincoln just wait until she came back to the store to give her the change?


Well, I don’t know. Maybe his mother told him to correct a situation as soon as it occurred. What do you think?


As for me, I can’t stand to have hanging ends. If I have something to do, I want to get it out of the way. I do so as soon as I can.


Some think it was the level of Abraham Lincoln’s honesty. It was absolute. He had no alternative but to start walking.


Maybe this trait showed up in his later years


When the generals at Gettysburg didn’t pursue the defeated army of the great General Robert E. Lee, Lincoln chastised them for not doing what should have been done, thereby prolonging the war.  


I know why they didn’t pursue General Lee. There was a great slaughter at Gettysburg and the Union generals had seen all of the killing they wanted to see in one day. I know how they felt, because when I was in Korea, I got sick of seeing young men die whether they were our men or the Chinese. I use to hold fire at times if we were not being attacked so that a young Chinaman might return home to his family after the war. I thought the war would end any day with the peace talks and that we would all go home. Actually, the war raged on for another year.


We live in an age of dishonesty!


We pay higher taxes because cheaters pay little or none.


We pay more for goods because of shoplifters.


We pay more for auto insurance because of scam artists. Just the other day a friend of mine said that such schemers rammed the back of one of his employee’s car. The insurance company said that despite the obvious scam, they would still have to pay to reduce the cost of litigation!


We pay for cable and satellite TV while thieves watch it free.


We get lower wages and pay more for services and products because executives are paid exorbitant salaries and bonuses. Stockholders get no yield on their stock investments.


Thieves break into homes, service stations are robbed, people are kidnaped for ransom, and employees steal products from their employers. Unfortunately, people are killed or injured during such crimes.


Accountants swindle money from their clients. Public employees steal public moneys.


Whom would you add to this list?


Our jails are filled to the brim!


Can you imagine the cost of the penal systems in the world? Thieves never stop costing tax payers money. No wonder in some Moslem countries they find it cheaper to cut off fingers, hands, and arms than to feed prisoners.


Drugs and alcohol and gambling make good people thieves


A friend of mine was threatened by a young man with a knife in Central Park in New York City. He asked the person whether he intended to use the knife. He said that he didn’t intend to use the knife, but that he had a drug problem and needed a drug fix. That is too come today.


Gamblers will still money from their parents to obtain money to gamble. It happens every day.


Alcohol puts beggars on the street, and some of them will steal to get money for alcohol.


People in these categories can be helped, but there are some perpetual thieves that are never cured.


Scams are rampant in the world


My wife and I keep our eyes on an older lady in our neighborhood. She calls us often telling us how much money she is going to get in the mail. I shoot right over to her house to see who is scamming her now. The most recent is that band up in Montreal that calls and tells old folks that they have just one the Readers Digest Sweepstakes and that they need to send $2500 by American Express before the prize of $100,000.00 can be delivered the next day. They have a dozen variations on this scam. I called Readers Digest and American Express and the Canadian scam control agency in Toronto and gave them all the information. It never ends, but our friend never gets scammed any more because she knows to call us about any exciting news.


Thousands of others are scammed daily.


Dishonesty comes in a hundred disguises


The Internet has a thousand “money making” scams. Chain letters are big. You get them in your e-mail. Even many affiliate programs are scams in a way in that they pay such small commissions that they do nothing but steal your time while you are trying to promote them. The companies get traffic to their sites.  The affiliates get peanuts.


Watch out for the Nigerian bank thieves!


This is old hat. The FBI gets a zillion calls a year on this one. You get a very formal letter saying that all you have to do is send your bank account number and transfer code to Nigeria and they will fill your bank account full of money! My goodness it sounds good—until they empty your bank account.


Just because the world is dishonest, does not justify us in being dishonest


All successful societies rely on the honesty of their members.


Everyone probably has some level of dishonesty because sometimes you can’t tell what’s honest from what’s dishonest.


Sometimes someone had to point what is dishonest out to you.


I got an e-mail saying that a company that allows you for a fee to send advertising to many opt-in lists on the Internet is dishonest because the procedure stops anyone on a particular opt-in list to send a message to you. Everyone on an opt-in list should be able to send and receive information. Well, I was in such a service not knowing it was wrong. When I got the e-mail message saying it was wrong, I stopped using the service and sent one last message to the opt-in lists apologizing for abusing the system.


Dishonesty can be habit forming!


We have to watch what’s going on in our lives to make sure we are honest in our dealings with our fellow men.


Maybe we have to sit back once in a while and say, “Am I being honest with my employer? Am I giving him a good day’s work? Am I honest in my dealings with others? Am I honest with my spouse and children?”


Some times we just have to start walking!


That is, we know that something is not right and we have to correct it. We need to work on our honesty every day.


Now is a good time for a discussion on honesty.


For Little Children


Mike and Kenny worked for a farmer harvesting onions. It was during World War II and the soldiers needed food, so the boys were let out of school at noon so they could work on the farm.


Mike and Kenny, like all the other workers, were paid according to how many gunny sacks full of onions they took from the soil and put into the sacks.


One afternoon, Kenny said, “I’m tired of picking onions. Let’s get out of here!”


Mike said, “It’s a long way home, Kenny.”


“We’ll hitch a ride,” said Kenny.


“What about the onions we picked? We won’t get paid for them,” said Mike.


Kenny said,“We’ll just tell the farmer we left, but we picked some onions.”


So they left the fields and played along the irrigation ditch, chasing frogs and in general making a nuisance of themselves.


Later, they started for home, but they could not hitch a ride, so they walked the two hours home.


Two weeks later, the farmer came to the school to pay the student workers. Mike and Kenny told the farmer about the onions that they picked that day and the farmer added it to the total and paid the boys.


When they were outside, Mike said, “You know, Kenny. Some of the other workers could have taken credit for the onions we took and the farmer could have paid the labor for the same onions twice.”


“He knows what he’s doing,” said Kenny.


But Mike didn’t feel right. He went back to the farmer and told him that he could have paid the labor twice on the onions he and Kenny had picked that afternoon. The farmer smiled at the Mike and said, “It’s okay, son. Thanks for coming back and telling me.”


Mike said, “Well, do you want your money back for the onions we picked that day?”


“No, Son. It’s okay. You did the right thing.”


Copyright©2001 by John Taylor Jones, Ph.D. All rights reserved.
So that’s what we want to do in a situation like that, isn’t it. To do the right thing.


(Yes, this is a true story as I remember back that far)


Copyright©2002-2012 by John Taylor Jones, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

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