The other day I was reading a friend's blog and had a hard time swallowing what I thought was a pretty direct hit at me. I have always enjoyed his opinions and his writing style and often see things I agree or disagree with, but have never been upset at anything written before. This time I was. And that disturbed me. Not so much because of what he wrote as much as because of my reaction. Was his observation correct? Because I felt that it was a comment about my integrity and that's something I hold pretty dear. I feel as though I've spent my life protecting my integrity so when it comes into question it becomes a real earth-shattering moment, right or wrong.
The line that hit me was this: "Yesterday I heard many say, I don't like it, I know its wrong, but it is the law. What does that say about their character?" And since I'm one of the people who said basically that, I took offense and stopped following their posts. And I could have argued the point further and explained my stand more clearly, but I decided to simply back away.
Which brings me to the issue of integrity. If one's integrity is called into question is it such a big deal? I mean, no one knows a person's heart or intention with the exception of the person them self. So why care? I mean, why should I care if someone thinks I'm not of good character? I guess the answer to that lies more in my upbringing than anything and that reflection reminded me of many things my mother said over the years of my youth. I remember this one: "When you are young, you make your reputation. When you are old, your reputation makes you!" And I also remember this one: "What price would it take for you to violate your integrity? Is your integrity worth lying for so you can save a few dollars on the price of admission?" (This was in response to the suggestion that I could say I was younger than I actually was to get in to a movie for a cheaper price.) The answer of course is no price would be worth it.
These are the kinds of things that stick with you for a lifetime and my mother's cautions come back to me time and again. I'm still struggling with the issue that forced this self-examination, and I'm still offended that my integrity and character were questioned because I think this person is wrong about that, but I'm happy to have the opportunity to think about these things. Because that's what ultimately makes us better people, isn't it?