Friendship or Honesty?

    “Friendship or Honesty?” New Era, Oct. 2008, 46–47

    Friendship or Honesty?

    I placed my heavy textbook down on the table as the bell rang for first period. My biology teacher was finishing up some work at his computer. “Hello Hop,” he said as I walked in. I sat down and unzipped my pink backpack, pulling out my homework while the other students came through the open door. I had worked hard to get my worksheet on plants done late the night before.

    I greeted my friend sitting in the chair next to me. I had fun chatting with her every morning at the beginning of biology class.

    “Emily, I need your help,” she said.

    “What can I do for you?” I responded cheerfully.

    “I couldn’t get my homework done, and I was wondering if I could use your answers. I’ve missed so much being sick, and I really need to get this assignment in or my grade will drop.”

    My mind started to whirl. “But isn’t that cheating?” I questioned in amazement.

    “Well, I already did this assignment, I just don’t have it with me now. Can I hurry and copy your paper before class starts?”

    She was my friend and I really wanted to help her. It was a fill-in-the-blank worksheet, so the teacher wouldn’t know they were my answers. He was busy, so he wouldn’t see her copying my notes. I sat there undecided, a battle raging in my mind. Should I help her cheat, or should I refuse to help my friend? It was true that she had been sick and missed a lot of class, and I really wanted to be a good friend.

    As I hesitated, my mind made a long list of reasons why it would be OK to help her. On the other hand, I knew it wouldn’t be right. Then I made a choice. I wanted to be a reliable friend, but even more, I wanted to be honest.

    Apprehensively, I turned toward her. “I wish I could help you, but I don’t feel right about letting you use my answers,” I said. “I am really sorry.”

    It was hard for me to disappoint my friend, but I had a good feeling inside, one that comes from knowing I had kept my integrity and been honest even with a good friendship on the line. As my teacher started the day’s lesson, many students in that first period biology class thought it was just a normal day. But for me, it was a day to remember. That day marked an important decision in my life. That choice defined what was honest and what wasn’t honest. The next time I faced someone asking me to share my answers, I had already made my decision. I had made the resolve to be honest under all circumstances.