Honesty Is the Best Policy: Meaning, Examples, Origin, Expansion, Importance and Short Stories

Meaning

The phrase ‘Honesty is the Best Policy’ teaches that it is always better to tell truth rather than lying to escape an unwanted situation. Honesty is an attitude, a way of life, wherein a person resolves to speak the truth and not involve in any kind of malignant activities, whatsoever. On the other hand, there may be some persons who don’t mind lying or forging, to gain momentary benefits.

But, one thing is very clear, that lying might get you certain benefits, but that would be only for a limited period of time. The relief is temporary and ultimately the truth has to be revealed, but with time it will get only more intense. Therefore, the proverb teaches us to stick to ‘honesty’ and refrain from ‘lying’ of any sort, however challenging the situation might be.

Examples

The phrase ‘honesty is the best policy’ is widely used in everyday communication; although, a good example sentence explaining the significance of the proverb, is always welcomed. Below I have given a few example sentences to help you understand the proverb better.

“On the entrance of a multinational company, there was a poster on which it was written – Honesty is the Best Policy.”

“The doctor yelled at Rahul – why didn’t you tell me before about the medications? You have worsened your ailments! Perhaps, you should have known that honesty is the best policy.”

“An honest employee will be duly rewarded when the time comes; perhaps, honesty is the best policy.”

“Mahatma Gandhi was trusted by millions only because he took ‘honesty is the best policy’ as his way of life.”

“I don’t want to be caught in an embarrassing situation, later on, so I will stick to honesty is the best policy.”

Origin

The phrase “Honesty is the Best Policy” was first used by an English politician and entrepreneur, Sir Edwin Sandys. He was in the House of Commons, several times between 1589 and 1626.

He mentioned the phrase in the treaties that he composed on the religious state of Europe. The treatise was named Europae speculum and was printed in 1605 with the name ‘A relation of the state of religion in Europe’. The book was again reprinted at The Hague in 1629.

Since then the proverb – “Honesty is the best policy”, became immensely popular worldwide and is among the widely used proverbs of today.

Expansion of the Proverb

In the proverb – ‘Honesty is the Best Policy’ – honesty refers to not your just being truthful to yourself and others but also be honest in your everyday conduct. That means if you are an employee working for someone, then you must also be honest towards your work. You should clean and stay away from forgery and corrupt practices as well.

There is a reason why the proverb asks you to be honest because if you don’t, you will have to face more difficult and embarrassing situations later.  A single you tell to escape a situation will force you to form a web of lies around you that will ultimately make you suffer one day. You will have to speak lies after lies to hide the previous lie. On the other hand, the truth will ultimately be out, leaving you nowhere to escape.

Importance

It is a very important proverb for it saves us from some of the very serious troubles in our personal and professional life if only we follow what it says.

If you be honest in your personal and professional life, you may face difficulties, but in the end, you will be happy and content. People, loved ones, friends, and colleagues will trust you and confide in you.

On the other hand, if you lie about something, there is this fear of the truth getting revealed, that accompanies you everywhere, even in your sleep. It is an intensely heavy feeling that you just want to get off your head, but sadly, you can’t. Moreover, the truth can’t be silenced forever, it can only get delayed. This time when the truth comes out, you will lose the trust of everyone you know.

Short Stories on ‘Honesty Is the Best Policy’

A short story centered on a famous proverb is the best way to understand the proverb’s significance and value. I am writing below a couple of short stories on ‘honesty is the best policy’ that will let you better understand the phrase’s meaning and the value that it entails.

Short Story 1

Once in India, there lived a king named Krishna Dev Rai. His kingdom was very rich and everyone was wealthy and happy. One day, one of his courtiers suggested that they need an honest person to manage the royal treasury. There was a job of identifying an honest man in a large kingdom. How are they ever going to do it? One of the King’s clever courtiers, named Tenalirama, came out with a wise plan. He suggested that they leave a pot of gold, in the dead of night, at several places in the town, and make announcements the next morning, that anyone who returns the lost pot will be praised by the king himself. His idea was that a person, who returns a pot of gold for just to be praised by the king, would indeed have to be honest.

The king agreed and on his orders, soldiers leave five pots with gold at different locations in the town, during the night. The next day, announcements were made in the town and King with his courtiers, patiently waited for the honest man to return the pot. Four of the five pots never returned, as the persons who got them weren’t honest enough to part with the fortune. Though a frail-looking, poor farmer walked into the King’s court and returned the pot to the king. The king was very happy with the honesty shown by the farmer and he immediately appointed him as the treasury’s manager. The poor farmer showed it to the world that indeed, honesty is the best policy.

Short Story 2

There was a boy named Ankit. He was a very laborious student and was loved by his teachers. He was also well known for always speaking the truth, come what may.

One day, the exams came, and just before the distribution of question papers, it so happened that Ankit was revising important topics from his book. Suddenly the bell rang and in his haste, Ankit forgot the book below his desk.

When the exam was about to get over, Ankit suddenly realized that he got the book under his table. Feeling too guilty about that, he called upon the examiner and told him what the situation was. Examiner was very angry but was also bewildered that if Ankit had other intentions he wouldn’t have told him about the book.

However, the examiner took Ankit to the Principal, who knew Ankit well. The principal listened to Ankit patiently and then, much of his surprise, let him walk away without any punishment.

Perhaps, the Principal knew well that Ankit is an honest student and honesty is the best policy.