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Thursday, January 06, 2011

$ is everything and everyone has a price

After a few long conversations this morning with 3 separate individuals, it has struck me why I always turn to my good colleague for advice (despite our differences & disagreements) and why my mum and my bfs (ex and present) invariably ask me what my beloved boss feels about a matter which I refuse to heed their views on.

It isn't because of the amount of respect or love (love for my beloved boss) that I have for each of them. And it isn't because they are the few people whom I can listen to without reacting instinctively. It is simply because they are the very few people whom I know can't be bought.

I'm not talking about extreme situations like their children being held at gunpoint in exchange for them doing something against their morals. Or situations where they are asked to compromise their values so that they can save a thousand starving children. We all know that these situations are extreme/rare and only a higher power has the right to judge the decisoins taken then. So what I'm talking about is "the everyday". I'm talking about integrity - what do you when no one is watching? I'm talking about doing the right thing. And my beloved boss and my good colleague are those who would hold by their principles even if it came at a great cost or sacrifice, even if the world sneered or mocked them or even if they derived nothing but pain and trouble from holding fast.

How true it is indeed that who we are, our characters, are shaped not just by circumstances but by the people we associate with. My good colleague and my beloved boss are beacons of light for me amongst the darkness of those who have fallen from grace. They stand out because they have what so few of us have, and worse, what so few of those I know strive for - integrity along with the ability to walk the talk. They don't just talk, they do. They don't make promises they don't keep. They don't behave different when they think no one is watching. They don't cut corners, or do what is morally or ethically wrong. And, they don't lie so that they don't have to deal with the consequences of their decision. In short, for all their other flaws (and tell me who is flawless), they are deserving of respect. That is, if one values the quality of integrity.

I'll tell you this story that I came across on the net, which reminds me of many people that I know - the story of Bernard Shaw who asked a young woman if she would sleep with him for a million dollars, to which she replies yes. He then asks her if she would do so for a dollar. "Why of course not---what kind of a woman do you think I am!?". Shaw rejoinds: We've established that already---now we're just haggling over price." (or words to that effect).

Moral of the story is simple - if you don't act with integrity, if you can be bought, you fall in the eyes of everyone, especially the one you think you are getting a good deal from, the one who is buying you. The person who failed to buy you may not like you, but he will go away respecting you. The person who succeeds in buying you will never trust you fully, and will never respect you either, because he knows you can be bought, that you have a price tag.

My friend, the Slug, judges people based on this standard - whether they operate/have double standards - a laxer one for themselves and a more stringent one for others. He has no tolerance for hypocrisy of this nature.

My yardstick will be simpler when it comes to assessing people and myself - Whether you can be bought (and if so, at what price). And while I do not dare proclaim publicly that I do not have a price tag and cannot be sold, I am going to live by this: Never Yield to Pressure, Only to Principle

1 comment:

The Slug said...

Years ago when I was moving and experiencing dissonance, you asked whether I would move if there was no pay differential. I said, "Yes" and felt better.

Would you do what you did some months ago if you knew what you know now?