Words of Worth

“On Your Honor”

September 7, 2015


What do American women with brown hair have in common with German roadside cherry (kirschen) stands?

One Sunday this past summer, while teaching in the Black Forest area of Germany, a friend and I took a Sunday drive.  I was pretty certain we would pass a few roadside fruit stands where we could pick up a basket of in-season cherries.  No one would be manning the stand, or hiding in the bushes to spy potential cherry thieves; it was completely on your honor that you placed a few Euros in the tin container.  And sure enough we did come upon a stand and I wondered out loud how something like that would go over in America. Would farmers find an empty cherry stand AND empty cash tin at day’s end?

Well wonder no more!  It wasn’t cherries that would answer my question, but it was Honest Tea, a beverage company, that would provide the answer this past August.  The Honest Tea firm, which makes organic iced tea, had a thirsty curiosity about how strongly Americans feel about honesty so they developed a social experiment to find out. The company set up a stand offering bottles of its tea at 27 cities throughout the country and used the honor system by asking people to leave $1 in a box when they took a tea.

The results were a bit surprising.  Philadelphia tied with Los Angeles, San Diego and Houston for third place, with 97 percent of people paying the dollar for their tea. Atlanta topped the list with 100-percent honesty while Washington, D.C. ranked as one of the least honest cities in the country after someone allegedly stole money from the cash box. Executives at Honest Tea said the stolen money ranged from $5 to $20, and it was the first time in the six years that the company has been conducting its experiment that this has happened. The results also revealed:

Providence, R.I. remained at the bottom of the honesty list for a second year in a row. One person in Providence paid for his beverage with a fake one million dollar bill.

Women proved to be more honest than men edging them out 95% to 93% honest.

Brown hair came out as the most honest hair color with 96%.

Bald individuals were the least honest at 91%.

In a day and age when, according to statistics, most people lie three times in a ten minute conversation, it was as refreshing as drinking a glass of Honest Tea to see these results. It was equally refreshing to learn that Honest Tea is encouraging Americans to embrace honesty and transparency, not only in their real worlds, but also across their social media worlds by encouraging people to highlight the unfiltered “#RefreshinglyHonest” moments in their daily lives. To that, I lift my Honest Tea glass and say, “When on your honor, do what’s honorable even if no one is looking!”

“…for we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.”

2 Corinthians 8:21


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