Sunday, April 3, 2011

What Happened to Honesty?

I've had thoughts on this subject for a long time. But the events of the past few weeks have made those thoughts come closer to the surface of my mind.

What happened to honesty? Why don't people keep their word? I have a very vivid memory of the first time I discovered that other people didn't think it was important to tell the truth. I was in second or third grade, I was in the lunch room. As children do, somebody mixed up a few different foods and made an unappetizing concoction. One of the other kids put a dollar on the table and said that he would give it to whomever would eat the mush that had been created. I quickly reviewed in my head what was in this undesirable mix and decided that there was nothing inedible in it. The taste may not be desirable but that would be over in moments. Clearly the transaction was worth a dollar. In my first experience in the services industry, I became a contractor that ate something gross in exchange for compensation.
Of course, we had no written contract, but in my eyes, why would we need one?  I promptly ate the mush.  In exchange, this other little boy pointed at me and laughed, while saying scornfully, "I totally tricked you, why would I pay you?"  Of course, I was faster than him and I grabbed his dollar before he could, and made no offer to return it to him.  (Was that dishonest of me?  It's debatable, but I recognize I was certainly not perfect in this transaction.)

That was the first time I realized that people don't tell the truth.  As a little boy, it baffled me that someone would make an offer they didn't intend to honor.

Throughout my life I have been baffled by the rampant dishonesty around me.  When I lived in BYU housing and signed the honor code, it really bothered me that there were so few around me that took the honor code seriously.  Did I think some of the rules were really stupid?  Absolutely!  But I signed a paper saying I would keep those rules.  When midnight came and I kicked girls out, occasionally some were offended, but my integrity was more important than their feelings at that moment.  (I did try to do it nicely, and tried to give warning before midnight, and most girls understood because they also had signed the honor code, but some of the most offended were a few that had signed it but didn't think they actually had to honor what they signed.)

That brings me to the present.  For those of you who don't know, Robyn and I are in the process of buying a house.  We're really excited about it, it has a beautiful mountain view, (because I didn't want to give up my current mountain view) Robyn gets the master bathroom she's always wanted, and it has an unfinished basement which will hold my library and my sweet home theater room in the future.  We're not selling our current house, though.  We're going to keep it as a rental property.  Part of the reason for this is that its value significantly dropped after I purchased the house.  If we sell it, we'll lose a bunch of money, so we want to hold onto it until the value comes back.

So what is the honesty issue?  We've been approved for financing, but our loan officer has made us fax him copies of the lease agreements with our new renters and he's made us jump through all sorts of hoops.  He says that investors want to know that we're not going to walk away from the old house and let it go into foreclosure.  When he said that, I was blown away.  That had never even occurred to me as an option.  I thought about saying, "Well, I can fax them my mortgage that says I'll pay it off over the next 30 years unless I pay it sooner."  I figure the fact that I signed a contract and gave me word to actually honor the mortgage should be enough proof that I intent to honor it.  I mean, I know it's not their fault that the contract I signed doesn't mean anything to them.  So many people are just walking away from signed contracts.  No one honors their word anymore.

People say things like, "The bank shouldn't have given me a loan I couldn't afford."  What happened to personal responsibility?  If you can't afford a loan, don't get that loan.  Two people with the same income can't necessarily afford the same loan.  One may like to go out to dinner more than the other.  One may have a tendency to gamble.  One may have a sick family member.  These are all things that the individual should figure out for themselves.  This is not the responsibility of the banks to figure out.  Your lack of forethought does not exempt you from your obligations when you sign that contract.

Sorry for my ranting.  I'm just frustrated with the difficulties we're having in proving that we really intend to rent out our house.  I just wish we could live in a world where my word would be enough, because people actually honor their word.  I'm not worried about whether we'll get the house.  I know we will, but we'll just have to jump through a lot of hoops before we do.  Meanwhile, I still believe in honesty.  Maybe, if you're reading this, you'll join me in making our world a place that honors honesty.


  1. I believe in honesty and I applaud you and Robyn for yours.

  2. I know a lot of people lately who have wondered the same thing during and after buying a house. Apparently buying or selling a home has too many areas of temptation to resist a little dishonesty.

  3. I will stay honest with you! I am so glad I married a man who I can trust his words and who holds me accountable to mine!

  4. It definitely is a pain sometimes... But congrats on the new house! Where is it?

  5. It's in Lehi. Once we actually close on the house and know for sure that it is ours I'm sure either Robyn or I will post some pictures.

  6. I do love some good honesty. My roommate is super honest. He said he would pay me $2 to put my foot in a bucket of ice water for 2 minutes and he promptly paid me when I finished. What a good roommate.

  7. I'M WITH YOU. I'm fed up with Verizon salesmen who lie just to get my money. Doesn't make me want to ever do business with them again!

  8. I recently heard a lesson on teaching children honesty and I was reminded of two experiences with you involving honesty. The first was a boy who came over to our house and took some money off your dresser. I believe it was about 8 cents. Pretty soon his father came over with him and watched as he apologized and returned the 8 cents. Another boy shortly after that came over and also took some money off your dresser. He also returned later with his father, the money, an apology, and his favorite toy which he gave you to compensate for his thievery. That toy sat up on your shelf for months as a reminder to us to be honest. I believe you gave it back to him on his birthday (along with a gift we bought) but it was a great lesson for all of us.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...