April 30 – Honesty Day in the U.S.A.

Posted on April 30, 2014

A writer named M. Hirsh Goldberg was writing a book called The Book of Lies: Fibs, Tales, Schemes, Scams, Fakes, and Frauds that Have Changed the Course of History and Affect Our Daily Lives.

He was so bummed at the negative effects of all the lies he was writing about, he decided to declare April 30 Honesty Day. Why that day? Goldberg figured that April begins with the Fool's Day, which is often full of tricks, pranks, and for-fun lies – so it should be balanced out by ending with a holiday celebrating honesty in all of its forms.

There are lies and there are lies...

Of course, there are such things as “white lies,” which are the polite untruths people tell in order to help everyone get along. When your mom asks you, “Does this dress make me look fat?” you don't want to say “yes,” no matter what. But there are more honest ways of dealing with tricky situations. In this example, if your mom hasn't bought an unflattering dress yet, you could say, “Well, it's not the most flattering on you. The others you tried on, honestly, look better.” If your mom HAS bought the dress and you are halfway to a party, you would say something completely different. Maybe something like - “Oh, gosh, Mom, you always look nice. I just love the color of this dress – it's so flattering to your skin!” In other words, you don't have to be blunt and insulting, but you don't have to completely lie; instead you can find something you like to honestly and kindly comment on.

Another kind of lie we often don't count as a lie is called the “lie of omission.” You don't say a lie, because you don't say anything at all. You either don't correct someone's incorrect assumption, or you don't come forward with important information. Once again there are many situations that are tricky AND sticky... But most of the time, coming forward with the truth is better than sitting around quietly benefitting from the assumptions or ignorance of others.

Here's an example: Let's say that a blind student named Sharon accidentally broke the collectible Star Wars figure that Barry took to school and carelessly left on the playground. If Barry complains to his mom about the the breakage without mentioning the circumstances, and allows his mom to go to school with a complaint about Sharon, that's definitely a lie of omission. He left out some pretty important parts!

Here's another example: Let's say that Carla borrowed her sister's iPod and then lost it. That day, Carla's sister happened to have a whole bunch of friends over, so when that evening the sister discovered that her iPod was missing, she assumed that one of her friends took it. If Carla doesn't say anything to correct that mistaken assumption, that's a really bad lie of omission!

Goldberg wrote in his Book of Lies that the average person lies about 200 times a day, if you count lies of omission and white lies. TWO HUNDRED! Yikes! We can all do better than that. 

(Hmm...I'm not sure I believe it. I think that maybe one to five lies daily is more likely, even counting lies of omission and polite fudgings-of-the-truth.)

Former President Richard M. Nixon
was caught covering up wrong-doing
AND lying about it.
The sorts of lies that Goldberg wrote about in his book were about lies told by or to powerful people. We should all hold our politicians and other powerful people accountable for their lies, and call attention to those who tell the truth. 

Goldberg gives out Honesty Awards every April 30, choosing companies, organizations, groups, and individuals who have acted honestly.

Also on this date:

Queen's Day in the Netherlands

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