Art & Culture
various essays on, well, art and culture
Bookbinding & Conservation
lessons learned from this profession
ok, I'm not the guy from SNL,
but I still have a sense of humor
'Jim Downey' Stories
mostly true stories from my
No matter where you go . . .
So I wander into this nuclear
reactor . . .
Thoughts on This Day
The Power to Forget
The Reality of the Situation
Guilt & Redemption
Iím at -7.13/-7.33 on The
Political Compass. Where
observations on the human condition
take a trip with me
|Published in Legacy Online, October 2003|
Being truthful, when you know it will cost you, is the true test of honesty.
Recently, someone lied to me. Well, actually I assume that people lie to
me all the time in the normal course of life, but this was one of the instances
where it was a relevant issue. This wasn't someone I met on an airplane
who was inflating their life history, nor the barber saying that he thought the
haircut he just gave me looked great. This was someone with whom I was
involved discussing a tricky business problem that relied on each of us trusting
the other. The lie was concerning a minor issue, but it almost led to a
complete breakdown of our discussion, since it cast everything he was saying
into some doubt. We got past it, but still it hurt this fellow's
credibility with me.
-- David Weinbaum
I'm painfully honest. Well, now I am. In my youth I was capable
of 'tellin whoppers,' as my grandma used to say as she reached for a switch to
correct that behaviour. In my early adulthood I took the attitude that
I'd tell the truth to people who deserved it, let the rest of the world fend
for itself. But I came to realize that even those offhand lies were
corrupting, and a threat that I needed to excise. I'm certainly not
perfect in this regard, and still too easily resort to white lies in some
social situations when pressed or when in a hurry. But I try and avoid
those instances, and have a set of carefully-worded statements that I can use
with comfort, being both honest and inoffensive. It makes me a little
more boring at parties, but I sleep better at night.
I think that honesty is also smart business. It would be so easy to
tell lies at the margins, tell people that they would be better off doing
this additional thing when having book conservation work done, or adding in
a third mat for that frame job. But we earn the trust of our patrons
when we tell them that the extra treatment isn't necessary, or that adding
in that extra mat just means more expense. Hey, someone wants to do
something that I think is hideous, I won't volunteer my opinion, but neither
will I lie to them and tell them that I think it's beautiful. In fact,
Iíll usually try and steer them toward a good design . . . if nothing else,
I want to be comfortable with the fact that they're going to be telling their
friends where they had the framing done. And if they know they can trust
us to give them honest, solid design advice, they're more like to come back
or recommend us to others.
Sure, being truthful sometimes costs. But I think it pays over the long term.