Skip to main content

Transparency: What Does it Mean Being Transparent?

The Meaning of Transparency

I've been hearing the word "transparent" and "transparency" used a lot this year. The word came up again for me yesterday - this time used by an ex heroin addict who said it when describing his new life - which now includes being "transparent" with those around him.

Being intrigued once again by this word - I decided to do some research into the meanings of the word transparency - in the hopes that it could be of benefit not only to me - but to others who seek to convey "light"...

According to the Wiki definition, the word Transparency, as used in the humanities and in a social context, implies openness, communication, and accountability. It is a metaphorical extension of the meaning. A "transparent" object is one that can be seen through. Transparent procedures include open meetings, financial disclosure statements, the freedom of information legislation, budgetary review, audits, etc.

According to the Free online Dictionary by Farlex, the more "traditional" meaning of transparency is this:

trans·par·ent (trns-pârnt, -pr-)

adj. 1. Capable of transmitting light so that objects or images can be seen as if there were no intervening material. See Synonyms at clear.2. Permeable to electromagnetic radiation of specified frequencies, as to visible light or radio waves.3. So fine in texture that it can be seen through; sheer. See Synonyms at airy.4. a. Easily seen through or detected; obvious: transparent lies.b. Free from guile; candid or open: transparent sincerity.5. Obsolete Shining through; luminous.

Transparency in Our Own Lives

So... in our own lives, what does transparency really mean?

We all know why the word is being bandied about this year by the politicians, but for ourselves what does being transparent really entail? Is is just some buzz word that suddenly came about because of the fiscal crisis or could it mean something much deeper and more meaningful for our personal lives? Like for the ex heroin addict I spoke about earlier... for him being transparent has a whole other meaning. It means being real to himself and the people around him. Being real enough that other people can see who he truly is. Not covered up, not bound up but clear enough that his real soul...his own personal "light"... can shine through.


1. Capable of transmitting light so that objects or images can be seen as if there were no intervening material.

The above definition of transparent makes the most sense to me. What do you think?

I'm Attempting to be "Transparent" in my Own Life

I have to be honest here, I haven't written in awhile, and writing tends to be my therapy. I'm going to try to be as transparent as I can right now because I think that that's what God wants me to do. Yes, you heard that right. God. So if the word God turns you off you might want to stop reading this right now. I do believe in God - and I believe God is our true source of light - or transparency, if you will.

So with that said i will go on to say that even though I gave God in my life, life kind if sucks for me right now (yes I used the word "sucks" because that's the word I use when it does) So yes even though I have God with me, I'm not a particularly "happy" person right now. The neat thing though is that even though I'm not very happy, I have managed to remain fairly transparent in my life. Transparent enough to help other people be happy. And when that happens, I find that I have joy. I may not be happy, but I do find my moments of joy. And those moments of joy are what prop me up...

So how am practicing the art of being "real"? By being myself, by being honest about who I am and what I believe in. I crave to be as transparent as I can because I believe that is the only way that not only can I see my own light but others can have some light to follow as well (kind of imagine the person ahead of you in the wildnerness holding the lantern if you will - if no one had any light where we would go?)

A Lantern Gives Light, Like We Should

Being Transparent Makes Us a Lantern to Others

So you might be asking yourself just what in the world is she writing this hub about? To extol the virtues of her transparency here or to say what an honest person she is? No, I'm not proud to say it but every single day I make mistakes. I mess up. All the time. But guess what?? God keeps forgiving me every time, and I keep asking for forgiveness and I keep trying to forgive others. If I don't I know my life will really really suck because I my conscience, my inner light, will extinguish. I don't want to be a broken light bulb!

Recently I talked to a young lady at work who opened up to me and divulged some very personal hurtful things that were happening in her life. She later shared with me how she later questioned doing this with me because she had not talked with anyone about her problems, let alone almost a complete stranger (we had just met) I thought hard about this and realized that it was my willingness to be transparent that enabled her to talk about her own feelings. Had I not been open and honest with her I'm sure she would not have had that comfort level to be open and honest with me. Which leads me to my point about being transparent and letting our light shine through...

IMHO, I think we sometimes put too much effort into putting on a good face to the world, denying our weaknesses and hiding our faults. I have been around long enough to understand that we do need to be careful who we share very personal things with, but on the flip side, if we never share anything how can we ever be of help to someone else or receive help back?

If you are hurting or have something to share, or if you are someone with lots of good and kind information to give out, consider my words and consider sharing yourself with a fellow human being. Doing so may change the course of their life, yours and help you to be a better person. And it sure feels good to be open and honest... "transparent"...Like the old saying goes...openness and honesty are the best policies, right?

Even our politicians realize this now. Hopefully they too will continue to aim to be as "transparent" as possible, especially now when so many people are seeking the truth.

Scroll to Continue

To read more about my online writing - or see my artwork and photography, please visit my website at I welcome your comments and thank you for reading.

Poll on Being Tranparent


Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on March 06, 2012:

@Richard) Thank you for the kind comment and I would love you to link to my hub here.

Richard J Lester on March 06, 2012:

Whilst doing that research thing that some writers detest, I came across your article. An Excellent & thought provoking read.

If I may, I will link to this article in my next Blog?

Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on November 27, 2010:

Website Examiner) Thank you for the kind comment. I believe that transparency is something that is developed over time as we mature - and it's interesting that you write about it from a governmental point of view. Thank-you for coming by, reading and commenting!

Website Examiner on November 27, 2010:

First of all, I would like to compliment you on an interesting, thoughtful, and exceptionally well-written article.

I have done some work on transparency, but from a very different angle - namely in law and governance. Transparency International deals with anti-corruption, are the world leader in that field, they measure corruption indexes for all countries. They have understood that transparency is the cornerstone of governance, that without it other policies will likely fail.

I noted how you speak in favor of transparency and honesty. I recently wrote a hub on honesty, which then motivated another hubber, WryLilt, to write a hub on the same topic. We both seek to be honest, I think, but she is a far more transparent person than myself. Thanks for an excellent hub! W.E.

Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on August 08, 2010:

Sage) That must have been an awesome moment in your motherhood when you realized that YOU had made an impact on your child, and a profound one at that. I'm so quick to be guilty for the things I felt I should have done and forgot that there are things I have done right! That dreaded guilt..ugh!!! Now I throw caution to the wind and just put myself out there...the good, the bad and the ugly. I know I feel better about myself, and I notice people are more quick to warm to me and open up, which I love.

Thanks for coming by my friend.

Sage Williams on August 06, 2010:

Dorsi - I really enjoyed this hub as I do believe in being totally honest / transparent. You offer such great insight for others through your examples and writing.

Along my journey in life, there was much transformation. I always tried to share with my children, what I had learned along the way.

One of the many things that I learned was becoming honest, first with myself, than with others. As a result, I instilled honesty in both of my children.

Just recently my oldest daughter, now a mom herself, had to write a paper in her Yoga Class. I don't exactly remember the exact topic of her paper. However, in her paper she referred to growing up as a child. She said, her mom,(that would be me) had always told her, "the truth will set you free". I was amazed to hear her say this and had clearly forgotten that I used to say this often.

Also she recently interviewed at a well known prestigious college and was told by the interviewers that they admired her honesty.

Honesty is a very rare yet beautiful gift. Getting past the uncomfortableness of becoming transparent becomes more comforting when one gets in touch with their authentic self and discovers just how beautiful they are.

I believe, that if one is raised with honesty and knows no other way, it becomes a natural way of life. For others, there is fear involved each and every step of the way. A whole new world is opened up when one becomes honest.

I admire your courage to become honest, leaving yourself transparent and wide open to criticism. It is apparent they you are very comfortable with disclosing and sharing your innermost thoughts.

You have conveyed the message well through your writing. Keep writing, I love your style.

Thanks for sharing and Hugs to you,


Tony McGregor from South Africa on January 28, 2010:

An interesting Hub, to say the least. Like so many "buzz words" this one is losing its value through overuse and, dare I say it, inappropriate use.

In the sense in which this Hub is written I think "transparency" is similar to the concept used by Carl Rogers of "congruence," which means being fully yourself in your dealings with other people. Which does not mean being "brutally honest" but being "caringly honest". Being congruent means knowing myself and being able to present myself as I know myself - in my frailty and vulnerability as well as in my power and strength. It means "being real" and not hiding behind a facade.

The organisation Transparency International uses the word to mean open to scrutiny which ensures honesty. It is then the opposite of corruption, which is getting something or doing something in an opaque way, so that others cannot see what is going on.

In governance the word "transparency" means adhering to administrative justice and having processes that are open to scrutiny by the public.

Thanks for starting an important discussion.

Love and peace


Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on January 28, 2010:

Your excellent words have left me with two thoughts...

One thought is about another definition that's been around for a long time: When "transparency" is used to describe business processes, it has little to do with honesty and openness. Rather, it means that the business process that is the backbone of an outcome doesn't get in the way of achieving the outcome. For example, a security badge allows an employee access to a building, and it's a simple thing to swipe that badge through a card reader. But there's a complex process behind that simple swipe (electronics, programming, policy, administration...), a process that the employee doesn't need to experience in order to go through a locked door.

The other thought is about these words of yours: "Transparent enough to help other people be happy. And when that happens, I find that I have joy. I may not be happy, but I do find my moments of joy." I understand completely what you are saying. And I will add that those moments will begin to string themselves together, like precious pearls on a silver thread, until they form a complete and glowing circle.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and insights.

Sterling Sage from California on January 22, 2010:

Transparency, though I haven't been using the word, is something I have a lot more of these days.

You see, I separated from my wife a bit over a year ago, and the overwhelming pain of the experience left me with no energy or desire to put up fronts. The most I could do was to keep from saying anything particularly hurtful (mostly anyway).

I quickly began to see that I was better off without all of the pretense and concern about how I might be perceived. I am content with being who I am right now, though I would like to improve on certain things about myself in the future.

Let's face it, the people who know us aren't fooled forever about anything. Putting up a facade only delays the spread of the truth, so why bother?

Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on January 05, 2010:

Thanks everyone for coming by and commenting. I do believe that telling the truth in love is very important when being "transparent" - something which I don't think our politicians are necessarily hopefully they are telling us the truth out of conscience and the desire to be honest with the public. Of course I have high hopes!

Rose Ella Morton from Beverly Hills, Michigan on January 05, 2010:

I never heard so much talk about transparency, until President Barrack Obama started using it. So when you use that word, I would have to believe in some way that you are referring to Our President Barrack Obama.

dusanotes from Windermere, FL on January 04, 2010:

I agree with you, Dorsi, one of the important meanings of transparency is honesty. Being able to see clearly also means being able to transmit the real you to others. Your Hub was well received and is very successful. Thanks

Don White

Hxprof on January 03, 2010:

You've thought this through well. I've come to understand transparency in much the same way you have. And I too am careful about being transparent so that I avoid throwing my pearls before swine, as scripture says.

There are also times when being completely transparent would do damage to another. We all have things deep within ourselves that are very dark-thoughts that though common to man (people) are not often confessed to someone close to us unless that person is ready. In this as in everything I seek wisdom from God as to how far to go with being transparent.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on January 03, 2010:

A well written hub with many deep thoughts. I used to be transparent but after having to many disapointments I like to be by myself and enjoy it and my writing. I love it.

Frieda Babbley from Saint Louis, MO on January 02, 2010:

Absolutely, Dorsi. And in being honest with someone, if you're using transparency and your honesty properly, you've thought about what you're meaning to say and you're saying or doing what you're meaning to say or do. It's up to the other person to accept or reject the truth you tell in love.

Dorsi Diaz (author) from The San Francisco Bay Area on January 02, 2010:

Interesting comments and I appreciate them. By opening yourself up to transparency it certainly would not mean someone liking you necessarily, however they might like your honesty. I like to use this scripture when being honest with people "Tell the truth in love", If you are honest with someone while loving them at the same time then honesty can better received.... and the being real part is not meant to be vengeful or hateful, if truly done with love.

Rose Ella Morton from Beverly Hills, Michigan on January 02, 2010:

I do believe if a person doesn't like you, no amount of transparency will change there mind.

Cindy Vine from Cape Town on January 02, 2010:

But sometimes being brutally honest can be hurtful, Frieda. People need to reflect a bit more and think before they speak.

Frieda Babbley from Saint Louis, MO on January 02, 2010:

Though it's not the same topic exactly, Ivorwen wrote a piece three weeks ago about overly nice people. The two articles meld nicely, to me anyway. Great topic. People really do need to be more transparent, and therefore honest. No point in not being that way. Life is too short. I find it's easier to be happy when you're not hiding anything. Not that life won't "suck" anyway. (I use that word too, lol).

Related Articles