Waking through time square the other day I came across these two characters and couldn’t help myself from appreciating their signage. I assume that they advertise their needs as such for entertainment value (…maybe), but after seeing them I began contemplating honesty.
When it comes to being honest or a liar there are truly only two options – making me by default, a very honest person. It’s not that I have much of a moral objection to lying, I’ve just always been TERRIBLE at it. Frankly, I’m quite jealous of people who are skilled liars, for it is a skill I have simply never been able to acquire. In my case though, I attribute most of my flunks to bad luck. It’s not that I’m a bad actor, but I’ve been constantly reminded that our bad deeds come back to haunt us – to me it’s just not worth it.
One of my favorite examples of my bad luck with lying took place when I was 14. My friends and I had met these three beautiful blond girls from the Virgin Islands and wanted to invite them back to one of our houses to party. With my parents being out of town I willingly volunteered our empty home, despite a promise I made hours earlier to not have anyone over for the weekend. Regardless of me having cleaned up all the evidence perfectly, a week later I was being grounded by my Mom after she had overheard a conversation between three young blond girls sitting next to her at a restaurant in town – I gave up after that.
What I ask myself, though, is that if honesty is good and lying is bad, but I’m only honest because I’m not good at lying, does that make me a bad person? It’s similar to someone donating to a building to a charity just because they want it named after them. Most people would consider that kind of person to be self interested or poorly motivated, but didn’t they still donate a building?
The beggars in these two pictures I believe are honest people. Not in the since that they are really going to go buy weed, or Viagra, but honest in their perception of people. Unlike most other beggars you see, these guys aren’t assuming that people give a crap about their misfortune. They know that whether they are telling the truth or not, a persons first thought after reading a sign that says “Please help, diagnosed with cancer, have no job, my wife left me, and am supporting 7 children” would be, “he’s probably just going to buy liquor”. Therefore, by writing their signs as seen above, they’ve disarmed a persons automatic response to feel as though they are being conned, and thus are more likely to receive donations.