Heroic Virtue: HONESTY

By Charles F. Harper

To Thine Own Self Be True

All honesty begins by facing the truth about who we are.

As humans, we are called to acknowledge, understand and embrace our authentic identities as courageous, compassionate, joyful, humble, honest, persevering, responsible, accountable, visionary people. Anyone who claims he is less than this is simply not being honest with himself or others. Indeed, if we are not honest about our true nature, we will fail to realize our heroic nature.

Heroes who are honest with themselves accept the truth that they are not perfect and embrace the fact that they are a “work in progress.”

In going and growing towards heroic stature, they recognize the need to take an ongoing, honest and fearless inventory of themselves AND the cause to which they have turned their passion. To be true to themselves, heroes need to look themselves in the mirror on a daily basis and evaluate how they have measured up when it comes to courage, compassion, honesty, responsibility, forgiveness, serenity, patience, faith and other “heroic” virtues.

Heroes who have the courage to be honest with themselves learn that, in their essence, they are stand-ins, if you will, for what Native Americans call the “Great Spirit.” When it comes to the struggle for justice, they’re called to provide the muscle; when it comes to those who’ve been marginalized, they’re the heart of compassion; when it comes to the sick, hungry and tired, they’re the healing hands.

Heroes who are honest with themselves also face with courage the shadow side that lives within them. This shadow side is fully capable of morphing into an anti-hero, and heroes who deny this truth do so at their own peril. The shadow side may include anger, selfishness, jealousy, pride, insecurity, feral nature or destructiveness. Although the shadow is a part of who we are, it seems natural for us to deny or hide it. When we do this it is inevitable it will creep out of our inner being and we’ll end up projecting the shadow onto others – including our spouses, children, friends, and neighbors, and noticeably, on other races or cultures and societies.

How can we be honest?


“. . .take the path of the inner truth – and that means taking responsibility for everything that’s in you: for what pleases you and for what you are ashamed of. . .in . . .life nothing goes away. There is no heavenly garbage dump. Everything belongs.” ~ Catholic Priest Richard Rohr


Heroes learn and grow from their shortcomings and defects of character, and they know they are not alone. But most of all, they learn to not only love the virtues they carry within, but also to “love the leper inside.” (St. Francis of Assisi)  

Question for Discussion

Stories Exemplifying Honesty

Anne Frank & Miep Gies

By: Erin Gruwell
Anne Frank & Miep Gies are heroes to Freedom Writers founder and teacher, Erin Gruwell.


By: Kathy Crockett <br>The My Hero Project
Raffi continues to inspire a generation of children and their parents with his music

Laura Ingalls Wilder

By: Susannah Abbey
Laura Ingalls Wilder offered young readers a glimpse of American life in the 1800s.

Honest Abe

Artwork Exemplifying Honesty

James Baldwin

Foundation of Truth

From the collection entitled:
"The 21st Century is a Century of Art and Peace"

Elizabeth Cady Stanton


Films Exemplifying Honesty

Peace it Together: My Enemy

Producer: Alex Rivers, Tom Leifer, Mohammed Abu Maria
Youth from warring countries discuss their grievances with compassion and honesty.

Awadi: Messenger of Truth

Producer: Fatou Jupiter Toure and Aicha Thiam
"Awadi: Messenger of Truth" is about the Senegalese rapper, Awadi, and how he merges his music with his activism and his commitment to social issues

Judea Pearl

Producer: My Hero
Judea Pearl talks about his son and journalistic integrity.

Brian Lamb - A Hero for Maintaining Democracy

Producer: McKenna Young
Brian Lamb, the hero behind C-SPAN.

Synonyms for Honesty

Truthfulness; honor; veracity; integrity

Related Links

Organizer created on 3/7/2011 9:38:46 AM by

Last edited 10/30/2018 12:13:58 AM by Anthony Pouw