How Honest Can You Be? (3)

How Honest Can You Be? Check  your conscience
We started a discussion a while ago on ‘how honest can you be?’ it was a fun yet bumpy ride, with  lots of intelligent and truthful contributions (thanks y’all). The first post tried to find out whether we had any justification for being dishonest, and whether it was ok under any circumstance. We found out from our contributors that we varied quite remarkably in our opinions. Integrity et al would not condone it, Bassey felt it was ok under certain conditions, while Christine et al called for wisdom and common sense. The part two (very hard read I confess) just tried to establish that honesty came from truth and truth may be different for different people, yet it ended with the conclusion that there is a universal agreement on what truth is (no wonder you didn’t comment, I was confused too). 
So really, how honest can you be?  Considering our arguments in post one and our mind bending search in post two, I conclude that being honest is a function of conscience. I believe it is not our philosophical debate or our societal agreement that determines honesty, it is our conscience that determines how honest we can be. What is a conscience? The dictionary defines it as 1.“the inner sense of what is right or wrong in ones conduct or motives…” 2. “…the complex of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual”.  I believe that every human person is furnished with an inner sense of what is right or wrong or a conscience right from birth. I believe the conscience is an innate faculty we are all born with but either nourish or suffocate. I can hear you apply the brakes of your mind like Tom and Jerry meeting a wall, “but not everyone is morally sensitive" you say, and I agree with you, but that folk are crippled now; don’t mean they were born without legs. 

Let’s get some clarity here; honesty is being able to be true to your conscience at all times. Whenever you go against your inner sense of what is right or wrong, you are being dishonest.  Your conscience is your compass, to aid you in making decisions. Every time Tolu lies to Timi about his whereabouts (see how honest can you be? (1)), he is being dishonest  and this is proof by the guilt he feels whenever he lies to her (sorry guys! I know we wished it could get a pass), on the other hand, every time Pamela makes an off handed remark about someone(see how honest can you be? (1)), she will feel a sense of guilt which she may shoot down by saying “I’m saying the truth, I call it like I see it” yet, there will remain that nagging feeling that she just did something wrong. Every time you come face to face with a situation, your conscience is able to tell you if you are being honest or not. Let’s look at a few examples to elucidate this point:

SCENE ONE: a man approaches you asking for your roommate, who tells you from behind the bathroom door, to lie about her whereabouts because she owes the guy some money and does not wish to see him. You do it, but with a pinch of guilty conscience.

SCENE TWO: a man approach you looking for your roommate, who tells you from behind the bathroom door again, to lie about her whereabouts, because her ex-boyfriend threatened to hurt her and the guy may be looking to do her harm, you do it, without a sense of guilt, in fact you feel like you have done some good and heaven should reward you. In both cases you performed the same action with different feelings because of the judgement of your conscience.  

Now this is our boast: our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world …with integrity…
2 Corinthians 1:12  

 Since everyone is believed to have an inner sense of right or wrong, irrespective of whom they are and what they believe, how can we explain the many people who claim not to have, either by their actions or what they claim. I believe that 

1.People Ignore their conscience: when people act dishonestly, it’s not because their conscience don’t prick them, it’s because they ignore it. You get to decide between what you want to do and what you think you ought to do. 

2. People can be deceived: when folk are convinced to do things against their conscience either for a greater good or a higher purpose, it is deception. Every act of greater purpose must leave your conscience free of guilt. A lot of people struggle with what their conscience say and what their accepted groups; religion, clubs, peers… demand of them.

3: People can kill their conscience: conscience although inherent is not undying, it can actually be silenced. Conscience if ignored for so long over a particular issue, can adapt to the desire of the individual and stop trying to guide anymore as Austin O’Malley said, “if you snub conscience a few times she will cut your acquaintance”. 

Our conscience is a gift that if we are humble enough to receive will help us navigate life, giving greater meaning to existence and less struggles with moral direction. 

Conscience is the perfect interpreter of life.
Karl Barth.

"Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/"

Kanayo Aniegboka

Kani is a writer, entrepreneur, blogger, public speaker and an all-round knowledge junkie who likes to view life from different angles.


  1. Never thought about it his way. So what happens to the people who ignore their conscience or have killed it? How do they restore it? Also, I believe environment alters one's conscience, one who grew up in a society where it's ok to give ur wife to sleep with a visitor will give away his wife with no nag in his conscience. Does it then make it right?

  2. Tyon nobody can give his wife to his visitor without a nag in his conscience culture or not. Except the man has a dead conscience as the writer well pointed out. You even said it yourself, society 'alters' one's conscience. It doesn't make it right.
    +Kanayo Aniegboka, I don't think Pamela will have a nag in her conscience for being straight blunt, I still think such people are a necessity. It can't be wrong to be point blank honest.

  3. So I'm as honest as my conscience allows me to be... Everyone with a dead conscience is a dishonest person. This is an eye opener. I've learned something new today!

  4. Hmmmmmmm,true talk

  5. Hey everyone! and thanks for all the comments, Tyon, you know laws are made out of human reasoning and opinions, so that a law is a hundred years old does not make it right. Let's take an example, although a weird one, but imagine if the law of using your wife as a welcome gift was instituted by a lawmaker who was lusting after his friends wife, and thought out a way to get to sleep with her without being caught, so he passes the law either as an instruction from the gods or convinces the house that it's the right thing to do. a hundred years later it's still not right.
    We can get back our conscience by responding to the little prodding that it still gives us, and as we obey the little ones it gains confidence and speaks more. If its dead, we begin by obeying rationally moral laws, and taking moral actions. As we do the things we know are right even though we may not feel it, it will serve as catalyst for our conscience to get back to work.
    Integrity, even though I agree that we need straight shooters, yet anyone with a conscience will feel bad if you say something to someone and hurt their feelings, especially if what you said could be said in a less aggressive and hurtful way, achieving the same result of passing the truth. If you enjoy hurting people in the name of saying the truth, you may have a sadistic tendency that is seeking expression. .

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