Honesty – Did you say?

By Isis Win

Merriam Webster definition:

noun \ä-n?s-te\
plural honesties
Definition of HONESTY
1 obsolete : chastity
2 a : fairness and straightforwardness of conduct b : adherence to the facts : sincerity
3 : any of a genus (Lunaria) of European herbs of the mustard family with toothed leaves and flat disk-shaped siliques
See honesty defined for English-language learners »
See honesty defined for kids »
Examples of HONESTY

    She is admired for her kindness and her honesty.
    He demands honesty from everyone who works for him.
    He didn’t even have enough honesty to tell me he was leaving.

First Known Use of HONESTY
14th century
Related to HONESTY
Synonyms: integrity, probity, truthfulness, veracity, verity
Antonyms: deceit, deceitfulness, dishonesty, lying, mendaciousness, mendacity, untruthfulness
Synonym Discussion of HONESTY
honesty, honor, integrity, probity mean uprightness of character or action. honesty implies a refusal to lie, steal, or deceive in any way. honor suggests an active or anxious regard for the standards of one’s profession, calling, or position. integrity implies trustworthiness and incorruptibility to a degree that one is incapable of being false to a trust, responsibility, or pledge. probity implies tried and proven honesty or integrity


I had a good conversation with a close friend and as usual, we covered topics with a little more depth than the usual chit-chat at times happens among friends. Among the topics we covered: Honesty. We believe honesty is a core part in people’s lives. Ironic, we never spoke about our personal perception about what honesty is and about. I suppose we both assumed honesty is exactly the same for each of us. Interesting, I gather we truly contemplate what honestly is, when honesty has been violated, overridden, neglected or ignored. I assume, when we think about honesty, we all think about the truth. Of course honesty should contain the truth, otherwise honestly, will not be more than a sweet and highly regarded concept that’s worth nothing. But honesty goes beyond the truth. As well, there are forms and forms of honesty. Particularly nowadays that we live in a polite and politically correct world. If you are older, baby boom generation, you know what I am talking about since these two ideas or concepts, were not as and prevalent then and as they are defined today. politeness and political correctness are here to stay for a long time!

A very interesting aspect about honesty is the fact that although similar to most, it differs among people. In fact, we can rightly say that honesty variances exist from region to region. To illustrate this, lets check the south and the north regions of the country. LA as the south and NY city as the north. New yorkers are known for being straight forward and forthcoming. A few of us would dare to say, they are brutally honest. I like that! I’ll explain later. But in LA we can say, honesty is much more a consideration towards the receiver’s feelings. A gentle honesty, or a polite and politically correct honesty? I leave the answer to you.
I prefer the NY honesty because the least I know, is exactly where I am standing on. Southern honesty, can be quite deceiving, flattery and of course supportive, but . . . Most people I’ve known, almost everywhere, apply this second one. Even in the north-east of the country, where I’ve live three-quarters of my life in the US.

We were not talking about honesty per-se, but where we can see honesty and we can get a good sense of what it represents to that person. Specifically my friend and I  entertained the honesty topic in the art world. In the middle of our exchange, my friend said: This an excellent topic to cover in your blog. I agree, although I find this topic quite complexed and compounded. I feel it could cover several blogs just to see the tip of the iceberg.
Our conversation started when my friend started to prick my brains about honesty and not so much in photography. My friend, a lover of photography, didn’t really know much this world and much less had any idea of the inner workings in this field. Through the 80’s and 90’s, I had the fortune of meeting many of the best photographers of the world and I befriend a few of them. Therefore, I know a little more about what goes into their creative process than the average person. I introduced a few names to my friend and mentioned a few known ones. My friend browsed the internet to find images of each of the artists I mentioned and she was a little more than impressed by their work and their honesty – or lack of it.
I introduced Hans Neleman, a still life photographer. Ruven Afanador, a fashion shooter. Anni Liebowitz, a celebrity shooter and perhaps the most known working photographer and undoubtedly the best paid in the history of magazine work. As well I mentioned Mark Seliger, known for his fantastic work for Rolling Stone magazine and many contemporary music bands. Art Kane, perhaps the best and most recognized “diversity” shooter. And one of my favorite shooters, a Gamma Liason shooter from Brazil Sebastio Salgado. A documentary photographer whose work borderline Fine Arts and many of his images had become iconographic in the photo and art worlds.

If you are interested in photography and photographers, do a query in the net and you’ll find excellent examples of their work and you’ll be the judge. The point I made to my friend in regards of honesty in photography is between “finding a formula and exploiting it” for the sake of having a successful career and those who represent their skills, through their perception, lifetime, lifestyle, perhaps interests and concerns and show it in a rather unique and original photographic way.
When looking at the work of honest artists, we can immediately recognize their work. We can do it not because a particular genre, same that I am presenting to you here, but because every frame of their work, indistinctly have their own seal. Their work’s originality is far from the known. They take risks and convey their vision in a way that touches most of us. By any means I don’t disqualify the work of those who are not as honest in their work. Many, if not most, turn absolutely outstanding results, we can identify their work but the vision they share is redundant through most of their careers. And as well it can be very redundant among several artists in the same genre. Their work is not unique. I didn’t mentioned Irvin Penn (one of my favorites) to my friend because she already knows about him. However, I highly suggest you as well to go to your local university library and see his work. Master of Photography Irving Penn was as honest as an artist can possibly be.

Honesty can be seeing everywhere. Nevertheless, in some fields it’s more obvious if it is there. Such as in the performance arts. In acting, when the performer is honest, he/she delivers such a performance, that like if they morphed their selves into a totally different person, they make us to forget we are looking at the celebrity we’ve known for so long. Such as Meryl Streep, Dusting Hoffman, Hilary Swank, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Al Pacino, among many more.
The core part that makes them so incredibly good, is nothing else than their honesty. Same is the case with many music artists.

On the other side, when I think about of dubious honesty, I get by default the image of a used car dealer, a lawyer and of course, politicians! Ouch! Politicians really prompt questions about what honesty is about for them, or what they believe we perceive, or believe about true or not honesty to us. For instance: Take what President Obama announces and the accusations some of the Republicans throw at him invalidating anything he said. Well, if that would only be the case, but as well accusing him being a failure, irresponsibility, unpatriotic behavior, you name it. They “politely”, hmm . . .  Politically correct? call him dishonest. But instead, they have the right answers BUT in order to prove it, they need seize the White House. Either the president or the senators congressmen are not honest. But who is who? Who is telling the truth? Of course, the answer will depend on who’s asking. Republicans and conservatives will side with  . . .  And Democrats and liberals with  . . . But what most seem to ignore, avoid, deny, neglect, override, etc, is the fact that the truth is a core component of honesty. Therefore, this issue becomes about trust. I believe that you, like myself and thousands of other people, don’t know what to make out of their “honesty”. Honesty that our representatives must have at all cost. Unless of course! You blindly believe – one or the other side! But looking at it, realistically looking at it, finding the answer in us – requires nothing less than: Honesty!
Last: honesty involves at least two people. Otherwise what would our purpose be to keep things clear, transparent and honest? Oh! Perhaps the answer is to let others know: They can truly trust us.
Hmm! . . . I better stick to art!


One response to “Honesty – Did you say?

  1. Wow! Honestly, I appreciate this post on many levels. First, the dictionary: “Chastity”???!?!? WOW! interesting reflection on how times change!!! (and on sexist double standards, as well)

    What follows is my reflection from an oversimplified description of a traditional Hawaiian perspective on Honesty. I hope this is an appropriate response. but it is what spontaneously emerged . . .

    In Hawaiian, there is a word, a concept, a value, called “pono”, which subsumes many of the meanings and values you describe. It is truly about Just-ness, Justice, Fairness, Balance. Honesty, Integrity, Truthfulness is part of “Pono”. Traditionally, “Pono” was the way to live in harmonious relationship to the Gods, the Ancestors, the Government, the Governed, the Earth, Sea, and Sky, the Plants and Animals, one’s Family, one’s Friends, one’s Self. There is a powerful sense of respect for those who exhibit, who act “Pono”. In the arts and crafts of Hawai‘i, when someone worked “pono”, the results showed clearly, as works that were strong, reliable, pleasing to the senses and the spirit. They served their purpose, and stood the test of time. In politics, when the relationship between the governed and the government was “pono”, the people thrived, and the rulers flourished.

    When people, relationships, interactions were not right, not “pono”, when they were “Hewa”, they were driven by thoughtlessness, disrespect, greed, anger, bitterness, vengeance. The works of “hewa” were grotesque, ugly, malfunctioning, failed their purpose, and fell apart long before their time. When leaders were “hewa”, wars were lost, famine, disease, and death struck, people abandoned their homes, their rulers to seek their well-being, their fortune elsewhere.

    When one behaved “Hewa”, misfortune, sickness, disaster, even death befell one, one’s family, and even one’s community, sometimes, for generations. The cure for these ills was a formal process of “Ho‘oponopono”, or setting things to physical, social, and spiritual rights. It involved the transgressors and the transgressed. It required commitment, respect, and honesty. It required each person’s acknowledging one’s wrongdoings, making amends, releasing anger and blame, forgiving, and restoring relationships in trust of and commitment to the promise of “pono”.

    Today, in the U.S., it is painfully clear from a traditional Hawaiian perspective that things are “Hewa”. We all share in responsibility for where our nation is, the governed, and the government alike. We all must share in the process “Ho‘oponopono”, of making things right, if conditions are to get better, if things are to be “Pono”. We all must step forward, in justice, just-ness, integrity, and . . .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s