Searching for integrity

Bird Droppings September 24, 2022
Searching for integrity

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” Buddha

I watch the news and pundits lauding their integrity and truthfulness as they command hundred thousand dollar speaking fees and first-class accommodations. Then I think of a Hindu holy man who sat for twenty-seven years with his arm stretched in honor of Vishnu, one of his Gods. We in America say it’s the American way, and many will pay to see that star-struck speaker with little significance. I look back at that crazy holy man who, after all those years of piety, can no longer use his arm and a bird nested in his hand, and a faint smile comes to his face as he has been of use. Who do I respect there? In all honesty, it should not even be a question.

Over two thousand years ago, another holy man walked about and taught that we were to forgive our brothers. As their faith goes, he died for all other’s sins so no one else would need to die. According to the writings that followed this faith, he was to be a blood sacrifice for all of humanity. He was a man who disdained wealth, war, injustice, and greed; yet in today’s times, it is those very things that are driving forces within the faith that bear his name. How can we bastardize to the extent we have those founding concepts that were so far from where they came?

“Character is higher than intellect.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“If we are ever in doubt about what to do, it is a good rule to ask ourselves what we shall wish on the morrow that we had done.” John Lubbock

“You can easily judge a man’s character by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” James D. Miles

I have noticed things the past two mornings as I walk out to drive to the school. A partial moon and today a fingernail moon greeted me, glowing away as I drove down the dark roads towards school. Yesterday an Opossum scurried across the road, tail held high in defiance as they dashed across the road. Only a few yards further, an eastern box turtle was sitting near the edge of the road just looking. It was an odd time for a turtle to be out, especially as the highway as I pulled to the stop sign. As it turns out, it was someone on a little tiny Vespa scooter; coincidently, we both ended up at Quick Trip. So I wonder at these synchronistic events looking back each only a brief second of my days, but each has stuck with me. Was there meaning and significance, or were these simply events that would have happened even if I had not been there to witness them?

“I thank Thee first because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, and not I who robbed.” Matthew Henry

“My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.” Thomas Paine

“Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what’s right.” Isaac Asimov

Prior knowledge and or experiences John Dewey refers to as a basis for education. We build off that base and add to it almost as if prior understandings are a foundation for constructing all further understanding. So I argue that if someone lives with criticism, they will be able to learn tolerance. If a child lives with hostility, will they ever be able to understand peace? If a child lives with ridicule, will they ever be able to understand or know praise? It is possible for a child who lives with shame ever to know forgiveness. I loosely borrow Dr. Laura Nolte’s “Children Learn what they live” poem from 1971. As I ponder that aspect of prior understanding and look towards some of the politics of our current society, I wonder how people learn to be so self-centered and greedy. In his speech to the UN, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said capitalism is in its death throes as we build a class of ultra-wealthy on the carcasses of everyone else. I look at Wall Street, which has always amazed me, how fortunes are made owning nothing but paper and someone else’s desire to own that paper.

Many people talk about and write about how our society is going downhill. As I watch and read, it is so often those who I feel are sociopathic and mentally ill who are the driving forces in that rhetoric and those people who reap fortunes on gossip and innuendo. Our local paper has a spin meter and sorts through each day the political spin that follows each candidate and each piece of legislation. We talk of repealing healthcare, and I wonder how many parents of severely ill children will want that now that insurance companies can not dump them or exclude them for preexisting conditions. I wonder how many breast cancer survivors will encourage their legislators to promote this plan as preventive medicine is given and free mammograms are a part of the provisions. It all comes down to those with do not want to give up anything and see everyone else as a parasite. Sadly we have come from an understanding worldview to one of self-centeredness, and sadly, it appears we hold editions of that aloft.

“Dignity consists not in possessing honors, but in the consciousness that we deserve them.” Aristotle

It has taken a long time to honor men and women who have shown bravery in combat. Recently some of the first Congressional Medal of Honor Winners were awarded from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. I wonder why many times, we hold off on such events. I wonder why I see what I see and others see nothing. I ponder daily why I can relate better to a Hindu holy man holding his arm aloft than to a politician or former politician getting paid a small fortune to jabber on about a version of reality only they see. It leaves me with my daily credo; please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your hearts namaste.

My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)


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