Letter to the Editor 2-25-16

“Honesty … is such a lonely word…” Billy Joel sang back in…well, a while back. And at almost every college and university in the country the word “truth” is almost always in the mission statement and/or prominently engraved on the side of important buildings (i.e.  “In Search of Truth,” etc. Really?).

Is that what your instructor wants to hear about her/his class, or your vice presidents and deans want to hear from their employees regarding changes or varied expectations …the TRUTH? The truth is that the truth can be a scary yet freeing concept. On the one hand, when you tell the truth, you have shared your thoughts/feelings openly with others. What will they think/do? On the other hand, you have been honest with yourself and those around you … freeing and invigorating.

My first conscious encounter with deceit was when I was 19 and a student at Marshall University.  I planned to be a dentist and be rich like my cousin … but couldn’t quite get organic chemistry and so I dropped it.  Three weeks later, Uncle Sam wanted me and in three months, with little training, I was a reporter then editor of a U.S. Army newspaper in Nha Trang, Vietnam.

Prior to my draft, I had three choices: 1) go in the Army, 2) be arrested or 3) move to Canada.  I took the coward’s way – I didn’t want to be stigmatized as a criminal nor leave my family and friends, so I served in a war I never believed in …deceiving my core being.

Coming back, my life had changed forever.  I lived with distrust for authorities like those who arbitrarily threw 50,000 American lives away and hundreds of thousands of lives on the other side … and for what?  Not counting those of us who were permanently physically and/or emotionally damaged.

Now, I live a peaceful life of caring and truth … I speak my mind. I could at times be more civil and should always be professional … but always truthful. My challenge to you is this: seek, find and live in truth …just like it says in most academic, legal and religious documents, celebrate honesty … speak out for what you believe in … or you deceive not only those around you … but yourself as well.  As a close friend of mine once said: “The truth shall make you free.”

Letter from Roger M. Weis, Professor of Nonprofit Leadership Studies