Monday, January 08, 2007

Honesty! An Elusive Virtue in the Church in Africa!

Kids are amazing in many ways.Every time I would tell my 9-year daughter, Cheryl something via yahoo instant messaging on the internet, she would write "True?" or "Kweli" in Swahili.In other words, she wanted me to confirm to her that whatever I was telling her is honest and true. She did not want me to come back to her and say I was sorry because what I told her was not true. How I wish all adults,especially Christians, would do the same. A quote from wikipedia.org says, “Honesty is the human quality of communicating and acting truthful and with fairness, as best one is able. It is related to truth as a value. This includes listening, reasoning and any action in the human repertoire — as well as speaking.

Superficially, honesty means simply, stating facts and views as best as one truly believes them to be. It includes both honesty to others, and to oneself and about ones own motives and inner reality.”

History has shown that whenever “small”or evil-minded people find themselves cornered or in trouble because of sin,failure etc,instead of being mature and responsible enough to face and own their sin and failures, they try to get out of their troubles by distracting those who would go after them by speaking dishonestly about others, distorting the truth, mudslinging and appealing to the emotions of their audience.Fortunately, in cases where there is effective discernment and reflection such simple, shallow and naive tactics never succeed for long. They may be entertained for a short period or time but eventually, the truth comes out and the true character and spiritual fabric of the perpetrators is exposed leading to their miserable but inevitable downfall. There is a common saying that ability can get one to the top, but it takes character to stay there. The same author of the statements cited above continues to say, “Since the quality of honesty applies to all behaviors, one cannot refuse to consider factual information, for example, in an unbiased manner and still claim that one's knowledge, belief or position is an attempt to be truthful. Such a belief is clearly a product of one's desires and simply has nothing to do with the human ability to know. Basing one's positions on what one wants — rather than unbiased evidence gathering — is dishonest even when good intentions can be cited — after all even Hitler could cite good intentions and intended glory for a select group of people. Clearly then, an unbiased approach to the truth is a requirement of honesty.”

Christian leaders are called upon to be truthful, honest and factual in all their dealings. The need for these virtues cannot be overstated in the church in Africa.Professor S. Richards who is teaching the Educational Policy and Practice course which am taking this semester in one of her articles says that it is vital to learn how to evaluate an argument calmly and objectively.She says that one should always ask the following questions:
1.How empirical is the presentation?
2.What is fact? What is opinion?
3.Is propaganda being used? If so, what is the motive and/or hidden agenda?
4.What cause/effect relationships are proposed?
5.Are these cause/effect relationships merely correlations?
6.Is information distorted or taken out of context?
7.Are analogies faulty?
8.Is the author over-simplifying the issue?
9.Is the author stereotyping?
10.Are there faulty generalizations?

It is always crucial and important to evaluate the character of all parties in a dispute.It doesnt help to just be carried away by emotions.Aristotle classified emotional appeals (pathos) as one of the most effective means of influencing others.Practiced publicists and cunning propagandists play on emotions and distort the truth to suit their own selfish ends.But, at the end of the day, it is factual claims and logical argument that need to prevail.

No comments: