Truthfulness is fundamental to character development. If I am not truthful, I can't make progress. Without a firm commitment to truthfulness, my self-serving ego will let me override my conscience. Integrity is lost. The internal compass in life will be ignored and self induced troubles will likely ensue.

What guidance do the scriptures of the world offer about truthfulness? “Let your conduct be marked by truthfulness in thought, word, and deed,” states the Hindu Upanishads. One’s thoughts precede what one says or does. Truthfulness and purity of thought, therefore, lead to positive words and goodly deeds.

Others depend upon us to be honest and straightforward. If we cannot trust each other, the structures of society crumble. People are social creatures. We depend on others for nearly all of our needs: love, friendship, work, community, commerce, etc. And others depend upon us. As the Bible states, “...each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” To extrapolate, the health and well-being of the body of mankind depends upon each of us to be truthful.

Truthfulness leads to unity. Dishonesty leads to distrust and disunity. “Woe unto those who give short measure,” declares the Quran. “Those who, when they are to receive their due from people, demand that it be given in full but when they have to measure or weigh whatever they owe to others, give less than what is due.”

Ultimately, life is about what happens inside of us. It’s about the soul and its development during one’s lifetime. That development is measured by the increase of good qualities, by improvements in character. If that process is not happening among individuals of society, we all suffer.

The Baha’i writings make the link between character development and truthfulness very clear: "Truthfulness is the foundation of all the virtues of the world of humanity. Without truthfulness, progress and success in all of the worlds of God are impossible for a soul. When this holy attribute is established in man, all the divine qualities will also become realized."

In order to contribute to the betterment of society and improve one's self, focus first on the virtue of truthfulness. Strive for integrity within yourself. Then watch how your character begins to strengthen in thought, word and deed. Progress starts with truthfulness.

Crenshaw is a member of the Baha'i Faith who lives in Eureka. Reach him at davcren@aol.com

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