Is "without guile", or being "guileless", a trait found in today's society? If one is guileless, does it make that individual too naive to survive? Can one be guileless and yet possess the ability to perceive the world as it truly is and still remain innocent? Is it possible for a person to possess the trait of guileless and guile at the same time, using the traits of both in the circumstances that require them, and would that be a contradiction in terms? First, we must understand the meaning of "guileless" and it's opposing interpretation of "guile" to make an educated synopsis.
The dictionary describes guileless as devoid of guile; innocent and without deception. An example is, "his face was open and guileless". Synonyms are: artless, ingenuous, naive, open, genuine, natural, simple, childlike, innocent, unsophisticated, unworldly, unsuspicious, trustful, trusting; honest, truthful, sincere, straightforward.
Now let's explore the meaning of the word "guile". A noun meaning sly or cunning intelligence. Example: "he used all his guile and guts to free himself from the muddle he was in".
Synonyms: cunning, craftiness, craft, artfulness, art, artifice, wiliness, slyness, deviousness; wiles, ploys, schemes, stratagems, maneuvers, tricks, subterfuges, ruses; deception, deceit, duplicity, underhandedness, double-dealing, trickery
Example: "Georgia was the only one among us not taken in by Owen's guile"
From the two definitions, "guile" does not sound like a trait we would aspire to or desire to be around people with those traits. "Guileless", although preferable, may not make a person entirely complete. Let me explain what I mean.
If a person is without guile and needs to survive in a working environment that can be cutthroat or is surrounded by people who have guile, would it not be imperative for that person to have the quality of discernment and some skill of maneuverability? Discernment is not a word that describes guile, however, maneuver is. Let's add the trait of "wise" to the mix and then we will begin to gain a clearer picture. (wise is also not a descriptive word for guile)
Another word that could be used to describe guile, is "facade". Someone or something that has the appearance of one thing, but beneath the surface is quite different. The dictionary defines it as a noun. An outward appearance that is maintained to conceal a less pleasant or credible reality. Synonyms: show, front, appearance, pretense, simulation, affection, semblance, illusion, act, masquerade, charade, mask, cloak, veil, veneer. Would those with "guile" have the ability to easily deceive those "guileless suckers"? Or are those without guile purer and able to see through the guile? Can they perceive danger and effectively sidestep it and self-preserve without losing they're guileless? Does the one with guile even conceive they have been found out by the guileless?
We live in a world that has throughout history been filled with people who look at the world with a "me" attitude. Their only desire for themselves is to get ahead by whatever means they need to use to do so. Some may have been doing it for so long they have either lost their ability to see what they are doing is wrong, or they have never had the conscious to feel remorse. (we call these type of individuals sociopaths) Whatever the reason, the reality has always existed, that there will always be those who have the capacity of harming others either physically, emotionally, or both through guile.
So how can a guileless person survive the guile that surrounds them? When someone is without guile they have the tendency to look at the world through rose-colored glasses. They have a childlike quality that continues to see the good before the bad and rely on their natural instinct of looking outside themselves. They often overlook things that other's would likely accentuate and show kindness before condemnation.
Dogs are known for the qualities of unconditional love and forgiveness. Could that be a fault in humans or a divine quality? Have humans evolved into animals of survival to the point their boundaries reach further than even the animal kingdom? Even dogs will sacrifice their own safety in protecting their owners or small children. Dogs by all sense of the word represent guilelessness. Isn't that why they are man's best friend?
To better qualify, the guileless must possess the skills of discernment, wisdom, observation, and deduction if they are to progress and thrive. Being childlike or without pretense does not make one unenlightened, on the contrary, it actually gives them the ability to see beyond the mark and not get lost in the muddle. Life's experiences, continual learning, and the ability to maneuver through (there is that "guile" synonym again) will render the "guileless" capable of shining. Doesn't everyone root for the good guy and scorn the bad guy? Eventually, the one with guile will be discovered. At that point, they lose the very influence their guile has attempted to obtain.
In conclusion, I want to stress the only trait that one can have that is used by both is maneuver because maneuver is defined both positive and negatively. The positive meaning is moving skillfully or carefully, whereas the negative connotation is to carefully guide or manipulate (someone or something) in order to achieve an end. No one wants to be manipulated. It is essential the one without guile learn how to maneuver through the world of guile or be utterly destroyed. Not only that, it can be done by remaining in their purer form of guileless. In fact, they must.
Obviously, one can not be both guileless and have guile, the two can not mesh. In the end, the guileless will have the ultimate success, but not without sustaining some battle wounds along the way. That is the only way they can gain the wisdom they need to win the war.