Tuesday, February 27, 2024
31.0°F

The importance of the truth

by HARVEY MACKAY
| October 15, 2023 1:00 AM

One day, a man named Truth and a man named Lie stood by a river just outside town. They were twin brothers. Lie challenged Truth to a race, claiming he could swim across the river faster than Truth. Lie laid out the rules, stating that they both must remove all their clothes and at the count of three, dive into the freezing water and swim to the other side and back. Lie counted to three, but when Truth jumped in, Lie did not.

As Truth swam across the river, Lie put on Truth's clothes and walked back to town dressed as Truth. He proudly paraded around town pretending to be Truth. Truth made it back to shore, but his clothes were gone, and he was left naked, with only Lie's clothes to wear. Refusing to dress himself as Lie, Truth walked back to town naked.

People stared and glared as naked Truth walked through town. He tried to explain what happened and that he was in fact Truth, but because he was naked, people mocked and shunned him, refusing to believe he was really Truth. The people in town chose to believe Lie because he was dressed appropriately and easier to look at. From that day until this, people have come to believe a lie rather than believe a naked truth.

How often do we reject certain truths in our personal lives or in the world around us for the sake of our peace of mind?

Several famous fibs come to mind: Your table will be ready in a minute. We service what we sell. Money is cheerfully refunded. It's on the truck. One size fits all. Never needs ironing. And the classic: The check is in the mail.

Many people don't believe what they hear because they've been burned in the past. That's a shame. What kind of society have we created? Why can't people tell the truth? Don't they realize that a cover-up only adds to the loss of credibility?

As the father of three children, one of my rules — especially when they became teenagers — was to tell me the truth immediately. I insisted David, Mimi and Jojo tell me the truth about anything bad they had done or were a part of. And I had to know right away — not a day or week later. If not, they would pay severe consequences.

That philosophy seemed to work for me, and quite frankly, I've always believed that telling the truth is the best policy. In business, it's a must.

At MackayMitchell Envelope Company, we don't tolerate anything less than honest negotiations and delivery guarantees. Envelopes today can be beautiful, colorful, complex products with foil and embossing, or unique in a variety of styles. It can be a very complex manufacturing process.

Honesty and integrity are paramount all along the supply chain. Nobody can match us day in, day out, job after job, envelope after envelope, smile after smile. Our customers know we'll do what we promise.

We also avoid vendors who are not upfront. Surprises from a vendor eventually can impact how we deliver to our customers. Customers wouldn't stick around for long if we made their job harder. Can you blame them?

U.S. President John F. Kennedy said in a commencement address at Yale University: "The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive and unrealistic."

Of course, there will always be those who connive to dance around the truth for their own benefit. Consider the following story.

The wife of an art dealer, who was anxious to sell some Gothic tapestries to a renowned art lover, was amazed and annoyed when her husband awakened her at 3 a.m. and commanded her to say, "I'll pay you a million dollars for your Gothic tapestries."

An odd request, she thought, but sleepily she complied, repeating the suggested words, and then rolled over and went back to dreamland.

The next morning the dealer told his potential buyer, "I can swear on a stack of Bibles that at 3 a.m. this morning I had an offer of a million dollars for those tapestries."

Alas, a shady business never yields a sunny life.

Mackay's Moral: Speaking of truth, we should have regular checkups to avoid truth decay.

• • •

Harvey Mackay is the author of the New York Times bestseller "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive." He can be reached through his website, www.harveymackay.com, by emailing harvey@mackay.com or by writing him at MackayMitchell Envelope Co., 2100 Elm St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414.