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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Is sincerity dead?

Sincerity is a hard topic to discuss and understand, but I feel compelled to make the attempt because the concept intrigues me. To really do it justice, it is important to first understand what sincerity really is and what it implies. What exactly is SINCERITY?

sin·cer·i·ty  noun \-ˈser-ə-tē, -ˈsir-\
Definition :  the quality or state of being sincere : honesty of mind : freedom from hypocrisy  (Merriam Webster Dictionary)

The Oxford English Dictionary and most scholars state that sincerity  from sincere is derived from the Latin sincerus meaning clean, pure, sound (1525–35). Sincerus may have once meant "one growth" (not mixed), from sin- (one) and crescere (to grow).

So basically, in a nutshell, it is being real, truthful, authentic, honest and good in your thoughts, actions, and words.  I like that.

But what value does sincerity hold in our world today? How sincere are we? If you follow most of the news and media, sincerity doesn’t seem to be high on the list of important values. It actually seems to be a dying concept.  You have leaders and politicians, on both sides of the aisle, who routinely lie, cheat, steal and manipulate for their own gain.

You see “celebrities” who marry for publicity and feign emotions on camera, which make them millions of dollars for basically doing nothing. There are coaches, religious leaders of every faith, people from every walk of life and profession, rich and poor alike; and they all have one thing in common- an enormous lack of sincerity. What happened to being honest, truthful, and REAL?

We see it in our workplace, our families, and in every facet of our lives- people who can’t or won’t be real. They put on a façade or a fake persona to either impress or manipulate those around them. I suppose it is easier for some to try to dupe those around them into thinking they are nicer, smarter, more honest or likeable. Or maybe it is a way to get what they want without showing their true intentions, especially if they have a hidden agenda of some kind or another.

I have seen people, especially women, who will present an image of sweetness so over-the-top that they almost ooze with syrupy goo. But who do these people think they are fooling and what is the price of this charade? Most of the time, insincerity is obvious and desperate. The sad part is that many times, the chronically insincere begin to believe their own hype and falseness and they lose the ability to actually feel their real feelings and thoughts because they become lost within the prison of their false personas.

I don’t like liars. I never have and I never will. I realize that everyone does it to some degree. Sometimes lying is used to spare people’s feelings- I get that. Sometimes we have to lie in social situations because the truth would be uncomfortable and dicey. We all have examples in our lives where we have had to be insincere. It should be the exception to the rule- NOT THE RULE.

Sincerity is an important value- a virtue to be sure. Sadly, it seems to be something that has lost a great deal of importance in the age of electronic communication. Studies have shown that more people lie in email and text messages and in cyberspace because it is just so easy to do so without effort.  Is being “real” and sincere so terribly hard? Is honesty an outdated concept just because there are so many more ways to be dishonest?

As I thought about writing this post, I was afraid I might come across as preachy or judgmental. That isn’t my intent. Really, at the end of the day, the person who loses their sincerity and the ability to be real is the biggest loser of all. They do drag others into their web of insincerity and phoniness, but at what cost to themselves?

Embracing insincerity and losing the ability to be an authentic and sincere person is one of the most empty and desperate conditions a person can face. It is a loss of integrity and credibility as well as the creation of a fake persona and soul. You can’t really know, or love, an insincere person because they are an illusion, a phantom, and an empty shell. Sincerity takes guts, maturity and self-esteem. It is a defining characteristic in an actualized person.
My hope is that we will find a way to return to sincerity in its purest form and intention. I can think of few things more wonderful than to be able to be a man or a woman who speaks and acts truly about his or her own feelings, thoughts, and desires- free from hypocrisy and agendas.


  1. Insincerity has been a part of the human make-up since we started walking upright. (Read "The Naked Ape" by Desmond Morris.}
    Sincerity leads to trust.
    Trust leads to responsibility.
    Responsibility lies on the road to leadership.
    Those who chase after leadership too often take short-cuts to get there (Insincerity).
    ... and the world goes round and round.
    Am I not correct here?

  2. I see your points about short cuts to a goal through insincerity. Thanks for your comments.

  3. You've got me wondering...
    sincerity and integrity...
    how are they related?
    ARE they related?
    A person can be sincerely dishonest...
    but can a person show dishonest integrity?
    (An honor among thieves thing)
    Gonna sleep on it.