Integrity And Honesty – Not So Real Today


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By Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz –

I shake your hand and the deal is final, done, set, completed. My handshake, and the required signature at the bottom of the page, is all that is needed to attest to the fact that there is now a resolution that both sides agree on.

Or is it?

Today I read about tweaks on meaning. I see TV reports about going-back from statements. I hear people saying, “That’s not what I meant.”

So what is real and what is honest and what is truth, today?

“My word is my bond” used to be the way in which people dealt with one another. What was said, was meant, and what was agreed to was final.

It seems that one’s promise or pledge is NOT the end point. There is now the possibility of changing, totally reversing views, switching the terms and of altering the meaning when the result does not poll well.

No longer can I assume that comments made to me are true. Well, maybe, sometimes, on occasion they are true, but more often than not what is proposed is only as valid as the split second in which it is uttered, or Tweeted or Snapped.

Honesty is no longer the best policy, subterfuge is, unfortunately. When I was a kid, we called dishonesty what it was, lying. I was taught that if I made a promise or stated a fact, it was real and to be accepted as final and true.

Not today!

It’s not just that ‘spin-meisters’ twist words and mislead listeners. It’s done purposely and with – as the legal system calls it – malice of forethought. There is a plan to deceive and to make that action appear to be a re-traction from the original comment, a reversal from the promise. “Oh, no that’s not what s/he said… What s/he really meant to say was this!”

Such pernicious platitudes and disingenuous digressions are now what formulate the perception of truth. My handshake and my word are still valid… But others’, I’m not sure anymore?

It seems that being honest is no longer in vogue nor appropriate. One continually sees the alteration, the invalidation, the swing in interpretation.

It appears to me that one’s word is no longer a bond of trust. Interpersonal relationships – accomplished not face to face, but electronically – are neither “inter” nor “personal.”

The world is inter-connected we say. In truth, the world is more disconnected than ever. And not just because of mechanics or electronics.

One’s handshake or verbal pledges today have little value in the highest realms of the legal, corporate, political or global universe.

My word remains my bond. My handshake is still a validating action. My comments remain my views. No need for ‘spin’ or ‘reversing’ or ‘redaction’.

Maybe others will also come to that perspective someday soon.

Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz, D.D. is known Valley-wide for his more than three decades of support for civil and human rights, and the positive efforts of law enforcement. He regularly lectures on related subjects, while working part-time as Hospital Chaplaincy Coordinator for Jewish Family & Children’s Service. Contact him at

Photo credit: outtacontext via / CC BY-NC-ND

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