Virtues: Integrity

Today I want to talk about honesty’s bed partner: Integrity.

Where honesty deals with the spoken word, integrity deals with actions.  This sums it up well:

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Integrity implies that you adhere to a strict moral code; that you have scruples, and that you don’t veer off that path. Often though, we are faced with situations that may make us want to compromise our integrity, because the prospect is fun or easy. It’s also often short-lived. And when one looks back, not worth it at all – because it leaves a dead spot in your being.  Yes, that’s experience talking.

 

 

 

 

 

All jobs require integrity, but professions even more so – medical & judicial particularly, but even there, sometimes people buckle, whether it is the leaking of confidential information, or accepting a bribe to look the other way.

Again though, what is right and wrong, because as with honesty, sometimes things do get a bit grey.  We’ve all been taught that it’s not right to steal, but we’ve also been taught that it is the right thing to provide for your family. So, if an unemployed man gets caught stealing (whether food or money) to provide for his hungry children, is he doing wrong? The stickler-for-the-rules in me is screaming YES! But the more open-minded side of me is empathetically saying, No. Wouldn’t it be more wrong if he tossed everything in the fuck-it-bucket and abandoned them? The same with the occupations I mentioned earlier – there are reported cases in South Africa of intimidation and death threats to high profile professionals. Honestly, if I was in their shoes, and my life (or that of my family) was in grave danger, I might slip and roll right off the moral high ground.

Sure, there are moral lines that I wouldn’t physically cross, and some that I always said I wouldn’t, but have as youthful indiscretions.  Some I even did two- or three times, because apparently burning your fingers once isn’t enough. Again, as I said yesterday, with age comes wisdom.

Now that I’m older, as far as is humanly possible, I strive to be trustworthy, backing my words up with action, although I know Elizabeth is shaking her head reading this: I told her I’d make her swirled mocha chocolate mousse, and I still haven’t done it – it’s been over a decade already! But I will do it – if I ever find the recipe again.

Earlier today I had a customer pop in at my office. He’s a dear old man; soft-spoken, with kind eyes and old school chivalrous. He was telling me that he and his wife will be making chutney this weekend and enquired about my plans for the weekend. I told him that I try to spend some time every weekend with my parents, because it is the honourable thing to do.  He even thanked me for it. It was an odd thing for me to hear, because seeing my parents at least for a while every weekend, is second nature to me, and if for some reason I know I won’t see them on the weekend, I make a point of spending a night with them during the week. Words, actions.

We’re all human; we’re all different and I believe in my heart that the greater percentile of us is just trying to do good and live lives that don’t cause harm.

As with the other virtues I’ve already written about, I fail with this too – although not as much as I did when I was younger.  I’m a lot more open-minded and comprehend that things are not as black-and-white-cut-and-dry-cast-in-stone as all the handbooks would have us believe.

Everyday is a new beginning, a chance to try again. Tomorrow I will strive not to commit murder in my mind (because I’ve failed hopelessly at it today…)

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Exodus 20:12 / Ephesians 6:3

I want to be obedient and receive the promise of the two verses that head this post.  Sometimes though, I look at some people and think Thank God I am not them. And then I pray, God, please don’t ever let me turn out to be like them.  I don’t want to hurt the people closest to me.

There are a few situations that I know of, and while I’m not sure where to start, I feel very strongly to voice my (what many will feel is a personal attack on them (but hey, if the shoe fits…)) opinion.

I don’t like to ram my beliefs down anyone’s throat, but one thing I do believe s to “Honour your Father and your Mother”.  The Greek word for honour means “to revere, prize, and value.”  I believe that this honour means all the time, until they are no longer destined for this earth – not only when you as a child live with your parents, under their instruction and teachings, or when as an adult, you deem them to be deserving of it.  We forget that as we are growing up, our parents are growing older and that they may actually need us to be around for them – to revere their wisdom, prize their presence and value (what little) time we still have with them.  I’m the first to admit that I do fail at this, and when I do, I repent and try again, because I want to live a long life.

I was chatting to a friend’s mom, Patty, the other day.  Her dad. Arthur, is in a local old-age village, because he wants to be around people his own age and he enjoys all the activities that take place at the facility.  Every Wednesday, Patty and her husband pay Arthur a visit and on the weekends, Arthur spends time with them, at their home.  It is an arrangement that suits everyone.

Patty did tell me that there are many of the elderly people at the facility whose children don’t even bother to phone their parents.  One lady in particular’s children were here on holiday for almost a month, living it up in a hip beach house – not once did they fetch their mother to have her spend a day with them.  It got me wondering just how many children conveniently forget or simply toss aside their parents, for reasons unbeknownst to me – is it because their parents are no longer employed with an income to bankroll their children out of a bind, or because their parents have become frail and may need some extra care, or as I’ve heard one person say something in the lines of “Mom, you of all people should understand that I don’t have time – my kids keep me so busy”.

Screw that!  Your parents made time for you and were there for you whenever you needed them.  They deserve, at the very least, a visit if you’re passing through their town or a phone call on a day that is not their birthday or Christmas and not for you to hit them up for money, nor to tell them about all the luxuries you’ve purchased, when you know they’re struggling to keep their heads above water.

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Remember that you can get a new car, a new house, a new job, even a new spouse, have more kids, and possibly inherit some if you remarry, but you can never, ever, replace your parents when they are no longer here.