HONESTY has been a hot topic the past few weeks. There’s a senatorial candidate with shady educational credentials and another politician who claims honesty should not be an election issue. Results from a recent survey showed that a number of Filipinos prefer senatorial candidates who “will not be corrupt.” Ironically, dishonesty does not only plague public servants but also the general public.
The Honesty Coffee Shop in Ivana, Batanes, started out as an “honesty store” in 1995. It took a while before the concept caught on with the locals but eventually the store developed into what is now the Honesty Coffee Shop. A little more than two decades later, the establishment still stands — a great example of what can be achieved with just a little honesty.
In some parts of Metro Manila, however, the “honesty system” didn’t work. In June 2018, the Manila Police District opened an “honesty store” at their station but, only after two months of operation, a thief stole Php10,000 from the store over a period of time and was caught on camera doing it. In January of this year, the store closed for good due to business losses.
Early this month, an “honesty bus” that plied route between C5 Kalayaan Avenue in Makati and a mall in Pasay City had a test run. But after only a week, the bus company scrapped the “honesty system” because passengers were not paying. They found out that only one out of three passengers paid their fare.
It would be naive to think that dishonesty is brought about by poverty. The thief at the MPD “honesty store” and the passengers who didn’t pay for their fares on the “honesty bus” are educated and employed and are not beggars. It’s also not the “honesty system” that breeds dishonesty because it has worked in other areas and certainly in other countries. So what’s wrong with us, people?
Perhaps culture could be partly responsible. Many Filipinos are fond of freebies and bargains and like to haggle. To be able to get something for cheap or for free is considered a good thing, even a trophy, because it shows that one possesses diskarte, even guile and wiliness.
Entitlement, of course, enhances this. It’s expected that the person who’s celebrating his birthday or a promotion or who’s given recognition in school or at work will foot the bill during the celebration.
More than anything, honesty starts at home. Not in school. Not in the workplace. If someone hasn’t been brought up valuing honesty and if he doesn’t grasp the consequences of dishonesty, then expect that he will, sooner or later, be dishonest about his words and his actions.
Dishonesty, sadly, has become the norm in politics and in everyday life so that whenever someone has said or done something honest — even as simple as returning a lost purse — the person is lauded and celebrated, as if honesty is so extraordinary, as if nothing like it would happen again in a long time.
Honesty shouldn’t be conditional. It should be the norm. (Laguna Now)