In recent weeks, I have found myself bombarded with numerous situations that have caused me to question the values of others and just what on earth they could possibly be thinking. These "others" range from adolescents all the way to older adults, and in spite of trying my very best not to, it tends to make one start to feel a bit superior. I'm not saying that I'm doing the total superiority dance. No, not totally. But geez, what are some of these people thinking?
At the risk of hurting feelings and outing people I care about, I won't go into details here. Rather, I will stick to the point I am at now, which is one of reflection. As parents, we all hope to impart some sort of wisdom upon our children. We hope to ingrain in them the things that we deem important, indeed even necessary, for them to lead a fruitful, fulfilling life. In attempting to impart this wisdom, my husband and I often find ourselves at odds with today's materialistic society.
With the children, I have to think that the apple doesn't fall from the tree. Cheaters, for example, breed cheaters, right? Or, at the very least, overbearing parents with unrealistic standards breed cheating children? Try as I may to convince my kids that "cheaters never prosper", it's hard for them to do all the work necessary to achieve the A's the ethical way, yet constantly see others skate by the cheater's way (and yes, sadly, I do mean constantly). We remind them that in the end, the kid who cheats knows inside that she cheated, and God knows that she cheated. This is especially true with subjects like math; it will truly hurt her in the long run. Still, it's hard for the kids on the straight and narrow.
And the adults who seem to trample over those in their path to get what they want? Naturally, I have even less patience for them. It's all I can do to be in the same room with people like that. As adults, we tell ourselves that "they'll get theirs in the end," "Karma will win out," etc.
But you know what? Outside of my marriage, the single most important possession I have is my character. And that's really all I need to know. And as my kids get older (now 16 and 19), they're really beginning to get that, too. Integrity is central to good character. They go hand in hand. You can't have one without the other.
I leave you with a couple of my favorite quotes on this topic:
The best index to a person’s character is (a) how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and (b) how he treats people who can’t fight back.
— Abigail van Buren (Pauline Esther Friedman), American newspaper advice columnist (1918-2002)
Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are, to some extent, a gift. Good character, by contrast, is not given to us. We have to build it piece by piece -- by thought, choice, courage and determination.
— John Luther
Balanced Babe (Molly Wendland)