i realized that i spend a lot of time on this blog being self-deprecating. i realized that you all don’t know me in real life, so there is no way for you to know what an all-around awesome person i am if i don’t tell you. i thought about writing a post called, “i am an awesome person”, but i thought that didn’t strike quite the right tone of humility 😉 i realized that i do a lot of soul-searching here, so it might be time to write a post about something positive that i have thought long and hard about.
we try very hard in our house to be honest. i used to think that the world was made up of 2 types of people. either you were honest or you weren’t. black and white. no slippery slope, no kinda sorta maybe. honest, or fallen from grace (i’m not sure what christian connotations that has, so please ignore if i got that terribly out of context). i was always perplexed/annoyed by people who would say, “if you think lying is wrong, let me ask you this: if you were hiding jews during world war 2 and some nazis came to your house and asked if any jews were hiding there, would you lie or tell the truth?” and i just realized- seriously, like 10 minutes ago!- why this bothers me so much.
because they are asking the wrong question.
what people who prize honesty are saying, i think, is that they believe in behaving with integrity. they act in concert with their moral compass. they are not honest for the sake of some ill-defined value; they are honest because they care about their behavior reflecting their values.
so, really what is important to honest people is their integrity. the anti-nazi wouldn’t rat out the jews because their values include preservation of innocent life. the better question to ask is, under what condition would you sell out your integrity?
this question comes up a lot in my house. we reinforce our values in little ways as well as big ones. for example, we do not let our children load stolen music onto their i-pods. they will come to me and tell me that so-and-so got a song from so-and-so who got it from so-and-so. i tell them that i would rather buy the song, because our integrity is worth more than $1.99. that’s little.
recently, someone heard a rumor that we might be selling our house (and, go figure- the rumor is true!). a person called us with a great offer. (that should be read with a sarcastic undertone, please.) he could get us a buyer for our house, and in what would be a win-win situation, we would default on our house so the buyer could get it dirt cheap. in exchange for ruining our credit, the buyers would give us like $50,000 in cash. it would be good for all sides- they would get a cheap house, and we would have enough money to hold us over until our credit got built back up.
now, for those of you who don’t know us, $50,000 is A LOT of money. it’s enough to clear our debts and still have some left. it would be enough to put a giant down payment on a new house. it would pay for enough lego sets and princess toys and i-pod songs to keep our kids happy for a long long time. there is no time in our married life that my husband and i have had even close to $50,000 in the bank. not even close to $10,000. so, this amount of money could have made a real difference to us.
but it also would have meant being so out of sync with our values that we literally felt sick when he offered it to us. he might as well have asked us to eat maggots (please don’t tell me about somewhere in africa where maggots are delicacies. i read national geographic too- that’s not the point…). we seriously felt disgusted that he even would have imagined that we would so something like that. that’s an example of something big.
because our integrity is worth more than $50,000.
and that is how we walk the walk.
even though we don’t always live up to the high ideals that we would aspire to, we certainly do try. so, while i work on being patient and available for my kids, and i work on having more discipline around ice cream, and while i try hard to be a good role model, i can at least hang onto what we have accomplished.
and that is the lesson that your integrity is priceless.