Truth and Trust
Santosh Kalwar is a professor at Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lappeenranta, Finland whose primary focus is on human-computer interaction. He is a Nepalese living as a permanent resident of Finland. I had never heard of him before today, but my interest was piqued by stumbling upon this quote from him: “Trust starts with truth and ends with truth.”
Initial disclaimer: there are extreme cases where lies are warranted, even necessary. Example: lying to Nazis to protect Jews. And while one must practice such with care, there are also situations (noted by Mma Ramotswe in Alexander McCall Smith’s books) where “a slight embroidering of reality is necessary in order to save another from hurt.” Notwithstanding these two peculiarities, Dr. Kalwar’s dictum stands as one of life’s most precious ones.
Of foundational and enduring value for human beings is relationships. I would make the case that relationships are, in fact, the vital stuff of life. To-the-bone hermits are extremely rare. Almost all of us live and thrive and depend on valued relationships. This is evidenced by many studies revealing that of ultimate importance to most teenagers is friends.
Any mutual beneficial, enduring relationship is built on trust . . . and trust in a relationship is built on truth. A trust relationship means knowing you will always tell me the truth; that you will never lie to me. Virtually all children go through some stage where telling a lie (or lies) seems the prudent thing to do. It isn’t. Because lies destroy trust. I used to tell my children: if I know you will EVER lie to me, then I can NEVER be sure if or when you are telling me the truth, and trust is demolished.
Part of any valued relationship is the knowledge that one can count on the other; trust the other. It doesn’t take many falsehoods to chip away one’s credibility and eventually break down a felt bond. If I really do esteem a person and yearn for a meaningful relationship, I will tell the truth. Always.