Over and over we must ask ourselves, “Is it true or is it false?” For honesty is the eternal search for truth. It is by far the most difficult of the four Absolutes, for anyone, but especially for us in this fellowship. The problem drinker develops genuine artistry in deceit. Too many (and we plead guilty) simply turn over a new leaf and relax. That is wrong. The real virtue in honesty lies with the persistent dedicated striving for it. There is no relaxed twilight zone, it’s either full speed ahead constantly or it’s not honesty we seek. And the unrelenting pursuit of truth will set you free, even if you don’t quite catch up to it. We need not choose or pursue falsity. All we need is to relax our pursuit of truth, and falsity will find us.
The search for truth is the noblest expression of the soul. Let a human throw the engines of his soul into the doing or making of something good, and the instinct of workmanship alone will take care of his honesty. The noblest pleasure we can take is to find a great new truth and discard and old prejudice. When not actively sought, truth seldom comes to light, but falsehood does. Truth is life and falsity is spiritual death. It’s an everlasting, unrelenting instinct for truth that counts. Honesty is not a policy. It has to be a constant conscious state of mind.
Accuracy is close to being a twin brother of honesty, but inaccuracy and exaggeration are at least “kissing cousins” of dishonesty. We may bring ourselves to believe almost anything by rationalization, (another of our fine arts), and so it’s well to begin and end our inquiry with the question, “Is it true?” Any man who loves to search for truth is precious to any fellowship or society. Any intended violation of honesty stabs the health of not only the doer but the whole fellowship. On the other hand if we are honest to the limit of our ability, the basic appetite for truth in others, which may be dormant but not dead, will rise majestically to join us. Like sobriety, it’s the power of example that does the job.
It is much simpler to appear honest, than to be honest. We must strive to be in reality what we appear to be. It is easier to be honest with others than with ourselves. Our searching self-inventories help because the man who knows himself is at least on the doorstep of honesty. Our instinct for exhibitionism, even though held in check, is a foe of honesty. When we try to enhance our stature in the eyes of others, dishonesty is there in the shadows. When falsehood even creeps in, we are getting back on the merry-go-round because falsehoods not only disagree with truth, they quarrel with each other. Remember?
It is one thing to devoutly wish that the truth may be on your side, and it is quite another to wish sincerely to be on the side of truth. Honesty would seem to be the toughest of our four absolutes and at the same time, the most exciting challenge. Our sobriety is a gift, but honesty is a grace that we must earn and constantly fight to protect and enlarge. “Is it true or false?” Let us make that ceaseless question that we try to answer with all the sober strength and intelligence we have.
-This article is referenced to a pamphlet titled “The Four Absolutes,” printed by Cleveland Central Committee of AA