Honesty is the best trick

The cunning is an old companion of man. However, while everyone considers the high intelligence as a positive quality everything is a little different when it concerns cunning,

There is an opinion that cunning always walks hand in hand with lie and cheat. Therefore, people mistrust cunning person, but they do not consider cunning to be an exceptional vice. There are a lot of sayings about cunning in Russia that are not quite condemning it but rather lowering it to the level of not the most worthy occupation. The tales about mischiefs and rascals always evoked a smile on the faces of Kalmyks. We have a fairy tale about an old man named Keeda. He had nothing but a red and bald headed ram. With the help of natural savvy and cunning, the old man managed to acquire seven camels, a horse and a fur-coat in a short time. It was necessary to him, however, to sacrifice the ram, but in the end he was none the worse off. This character is treated kindly in Kalmykia and his sculpture is located in Elista.
It is interesting that sometimes the cunning ones become the victims of cunning. Remember Homeric "Odyssey" that was entirely based on caused by his actions misadventures of the hero. Having cunningly defeated and blinded the Cyclops Polyphemus, Odysseus brought upon himself the wrath of the sea god Poseidon, the father of the giant. Yes, Odysseus was forced to cheat in order to avoid death, but in retaliation Poseidon prevented Odysseus from returning home for 20 years.

Nevertheless, Homer calls his hero "many-sided" and openly admires him. Same resourcefulness was demonstrated by the wife of Odysseus, Penelope. Surrounded by the bridegrooms, who hunted for the riches of presumably deceased king of Ithaca, she promised each of them hand and heart as soon as she finishes weaving the shroud for her husband. Every morning she sat down for work but every night she took it apart. The trick of Penelope allowed her to remain faithful to her husband, and again caused admiration of the author.
Note that cunning persons occupy a place of honour in the folklore of many peoples: one can recall the epic about Hodja Nasreddin or Goethe's ballad about Reynard the Fox. For many centuries people admire their tricks, although, if you look closely, these characters were not angels.
One cannot but admire how Nasreddin tricked the pawnbroker Jafar! Sitting in a sack in which he was to be drowned, the cunning person persuaded a greedy money-lender to swap places with him. The poor fellow was not only drowned, but got a good whipping before that. And Reynard the Fox's tricks were not any better.
However, people turn a blind eye to the unsightly tricks of people's favourites. The clue is simple: they confront the characters much more powerful and unpleasant. They face, as many of us do, a simple choice: either immediately surrender or to try to find a way out of what seems to be a desperate situation.
It turns out sometimes you cannot do without tricks. Military cunning, for example, is directly considered to be valour. Odysseus was famous for having invented the Trojan horse, which helped the special forces of the Achaeans to seize the city besieged for many years. No wonder one of the founders of military strategy the Chinese general Sun Tzu taught: "A military operation involves deception." In his treatise on the art of war, he outlined 12 tricks (stratagem), which allow one to achieve victory over the enemy, and these commandments are still relevant for military leaders of the world.
Here is an example from the history of chess. One of the legends says that when the two sovereigns of neighbouring kingdoms quarrelled, the advisers suggested finding out which of them was best player of Chaturanga – the ancient Indian analogue of chess – before the battle. The kings played for a long time, but the forces were equal, and no one could defeat the rival. A month passed and then another month and then their troops, consisting of artisans and ploughmen, quietly dispersed to their homes. The advisers, of course, expected it and went to the trick to avoid ruinous for both kingdoms war.
Politics is another area of ​​human activity where cunning is unavoidable. In fact, if politicians were always sincere, the world, perhaps, would wallow in endless conflicts.
But in politics, the trick of cunning is different. Two names, Niccolo Machiavelli and Charles Talleyrand, became the personification of resourcefulness, unscrupulousness and cynicism. Their destinies are surprisingly similar: they were both born in families of impoverished, but noble aristocrats, both of them had their share of suffering and both had their ups and downs. And they went down in history as outstandingly cunning persons.
But if Talleyrand with his maxim "To betray in time is not to betray but to foresee" really deserves the unflattering epithets awarded by his opponents, then Machiavelli is said to be a crystal clear person in ordinary life.
He justly considered the socio political situation of that time, made certain conclusions and stated them in his several works. The most famous of them is Il Principe.
The principles of Machiavelli, like the stratagems of Sun Tzu, can be applied in many ways. In general, I believe that cunning is a neutral property of the human intellect. A person can use this quality for good and bad.
It's one thing, if a person, like Talleyrand, betrays allies left and right for his own benefit. And quite another thing is when he resorts to cunning in order to avoid a terrible misfortune for all, as did the wise men of the Indian legend.
So I'm more inclined to support Benjamin Franklin, who once said that "honesty is the best policy." To be honest to the end is the greatest trick for both the politician and any person.