I remember my father saying to me once that honesty is like pregnancy, either you are or you aren’t. He felt if he were to put one lie on his taxes that would make him a liar, and he could not live with that. I remember the emotion in his face and voice when he looked at me, his young daughter, and told me that the president of the United States, Richard Nixon, had lied to him. It was shattering for him. My father was a smart man, not unaccustomed to the ways of the world, but he carried an innocence about human nature, a willingness to believe in its goodness, which inspires me still.

And I remember Buckminster Fuller, a friend of my father’s, saying that he believed that if everyone on earth would make a committment to tell the truth, and only the truth, from this point forward the ills of the world would be resolved. The deceptions and the cover-ups create the problems.

Tonight I sat on a porch in Appalachia with mountain friends who told stories of people and histories around these parts that are utterly fascinating, entertaining, hilarious, heartbreaking, and  invaluable. These are not religious people, or dogmatic in any way. But the one moral they hold to is truth-telling. If someone comes in here as an outsider and says who he is and what he is planning to do, like or not, they will work with him and respect him. But if he says one thing because he thinks that is what they want to hear and then does another, that’s it. There are no more graces for that person among these people. Like my father said, either he is honest or he is not, and if he is not that is all they need to know.

I want to live this value. Forever. No matter what it costs me to tell the truth the best I know it. To in every instance be honest. I know this is tricky. Did you see the Geico commercial in which Abraham Lincoln, honest Abe, was asked by his wife whether her new frock made her butt look big or not? He stammered and was at odds with himself and it didn’t go well for him. Even in these cases I want to answer the questions with honesty. Who needs equivocation? We don’t!

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