Abraham Lincoln made the great speech of his famous senatorial campaign at Springfield, Illinois. The convention before which he spoke consisted of a thousand delegates together with the crowd that had gathered with them.
His speech was carefully prepared. Every sentence was guarded and emphatic. It has since become famous as “The Divided House” speech. Before entering the hall where it was to be delivered, he stepped into the office of his law- partner, Mr. Herndon, and took him to a private room, so that their interview might be only between them, took his manuscript from his pocket, and read one of the opening sentences: “I believe this government cannot endure permanently, half slave and half free.”
Mr. Herndon remarked that the sentiment was true, but suggested that it might not be good policy to utter it at that time.
Mr. Lincoln replied with great firmness: “No matter about the policy. It is true, and the nation is entitled to it. The proposition has been true for six thousand years, and I will deliver it as it is written.”
Everyone of us knows in his secret heart that he could be a better person–more tolerant, more unselfish, more generous, more kind. None of us ever fully lives up to his ideals, but the encouraging thing is this: improvement is always possible. Sometimes will power will do it. Sometimes prayer. Sometimes a sermon. Sometimes words on a page. “Our chief want in life,” said Emerson, “is someone who will make us do what we can.” The season of Lent, The Holy Week and the Easter celebrations can just do that for each of us. They provide opportunities for us to improve.
Lack of self-honesty and integrity can be profoundly damaging. “Failures in self-honesty,” says psychotherapist Dr. Albert Ellis, “are at the root of almost every emotional and mental disturbance.” Every defeat of ours, every failure of ours can be attributed to the failures in self-honesty.
Almost in every disrupted marriage there is, on both sides, self-deception. For every breaking of the contract or agreement there is a dishonest beginning. In fact there need not be any rules for us to be honest with oneself.
While all these can have such a bad consequences, the ability to look at yourself hard and admitting honestly both the bad and the good, is the most powerful and untapped source of human energy in this world.
To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.
The emotional rewards of self-honesty are plenty. Initially self-honesty may land us in trouble. But, that will be a strong ally when you begin to realize your long and lasting dreams of life.
Unfortunately, self-honesty is rare. ”A life lived with integrity – even if it lacks the trappings of fame and fortune is a shining star in whose light others may follow in the years to come,” said Denis Waitley
Sometimes failures and sufferings can make us more honest than success and glorifications. Self honesty and real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.
In fact, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, ”The greatest homage we can pay to truth is to use it.” However, being honest with yourself is more than a formula for success on the job or in marriage. It is a way of life.
Anthony de Mello wrote on greatness in his book, ‘One Minute Wisdom,’ this way: “The trouble with the world,” said the Master with a sigh, “is that human beings refuse to grow up.”
“When can a person be said to have grown up?” asked a disciple.
“On the day he does not need to be lied to about anything.”
We are in the season of Lent. We keep moving towards the greatest celebration of Christianity, called Easter. To reach Easter with the right disposition, we need to go through the Lent with care. We need to check and set right everything that is not normal. Our lives improve only when we take chances – and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves.