viernes, 21 de septiembre de 2007


I hate, like at the doors of death, the man that says a thing, ¡but hides another in his heart! (Achilles in Homer’s Iliad)

If we consider that Homer wrote The Iliad around the VIII Century before Christ, we can realize that sincerity is appreciated since old times and that hypocrisy is not an invention of our days.

In the old Rome, potters did their best trying to imitate the high quality of their Greek counterparts, but they couldn’t achieve it because they utilized materials of inferior quality. When placed in the furnace, many pots cracked. Roman potters, instead of rejecting such vessels, filled the cracks with wax and then painted them. The faulty pots were placed alongside the good ones as if they were of a good quality and the clients bought them without suspecting. When the pots were put to the fire, however, the wax melted and the bad quality of the job was discovered. As consequence, the people selling pots began to use the expression sin cere ("without wax" in latin) to distinguish quality pots from the faulty ones.

According to the dictionary, the word sincerity has three meanings, that rather than independent, are complementary: 1. Frankness of mind and intention. 2. Freedom of hypocrisy. 3. Authenticity.

Have you noticed that there are persons that seem to have forgotten us, and that one day they visit us or call us just “to say hello”? After some casual chat we discover that besides "saying hello," they needed money, they wanted to sell a product, or required something special of ourselves. Independently of how that particular conversation ends, we remain with a feeling of discomfort by the lack of frankness of such persons.

Sincerity is to go to the central point in order to express clearly the essence of the matter without manipulative or dishonest argumentations, avoiding detours and excess of words that intend to convince by sheer quantity. Granted, to speak sincerely is not a mere question of word reduction in a conversation, but to promote a clear and assertive communication. Neither should we confuse frankness with cruelty or roughness. We must be able, for example, to use euphemisms for delicate situations. An euphemism is a way to express with care an uncomfortable thought. Some would say of whom passed away: "he is already resting." Such an expression shows sensibility, which is an adequate balance for sincerity.

The sincerity should also be balanced with deference. Deference is "to limit our liberty in order to not offend the senses of those around us." Instead of letting our opinions be an unnecessary fountain of irritation for others, we should be aware of how to express our points of view in relation to those of the others. The deference isn’t about forfeiting the truth, neither to use “little white lies”, but to go as far as possible to live in peace with the ones that surround us.

When was the last time that you bought a product that didn’t turn out to be like the one promoted by a specific ad? How did you feel? When we aren’t sincere, we are guilty of the same thing: we raise a false expectation, an attractive exterior appearance of a negative situation, product or fact. Sincerity is to use the precise words to expose all (visible or hidden) of what we want to say or promote.

Sincerity is also to practice what is preached. Either at home, at our neighborhood, or at the office, sincerity is to faithfully act in agreement to what we speak and to live accordingly in all areas of our life. Nothing exhibits more clearly the insincere motives like to say one thing and do another. For example, if we are trying to advise our teenager upon the risks of the alcohol and he sees us arriving home drunken, we are denying the validity of our words.

Julius Caesar was very brilliant in many areas of his life: administration, statesmanship, military, etc.., but he had also many ambitions and lacked scruples when selecting the ways to achieve promotions. For example, he got married for political connections and got divorced when new families arrived to power. He did many alliances, but many were insincere. At the end, the deceitful methods of Julius Caesar were used against him because he was stabbed to death among acquaintances and "friends."

Perhaps if Julius Caesar would have been authentic, sincere, most of his life, would have been in the position to say that was unfair the treason he was object. Going through life with a mask has the inconvenience that people relates to the mask and doesn’t know the person behind it. That’s what happens when we aren’t sincere: we remain isolated or even worse, we are betrayed, because the people around us never related to the real person.

Perhaps we don’t have the answer to all the questions, all the conflicts, or all the problems, but, following Elihu´s (the friend of Job) example, we should always be sincere: My words declare the uprightness of my heart, and what my lips know they speak sincerely (Job 33:3).

Sincerity, at the end, is to reveal with words and works what is in the heart.

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