Do You Suffer from “Convenience Integrity?”

One Saturday morning, I was running errands with my son, Joss, when a strange thing happened.

I found integrity at Home Depot.

No, it wasn’t in one of the employees (who are surprisingly helpful at my local store), nor was it in the store itself.

On our quest for flowers for mommy and some water-softener, I found integrity in myself.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with water-softener salt, it’s something that helps keep your water softener cleaned out and working well so your water isn’t “hard.” Hard water is akin to taking a shower in liquid sandpaper – which is perfect if you’re trying to exfoliate.

When you buy the 40 lb. bag (geez!) of salt, you need to tell the cashier to ring it up, then load it into your cart on your way out (large piles of it sit conveniently by the exit). I asked for two bags, swiped my debit card, and got the salt.

When I got home I looked at the receipt. The cashier had not rung up the salt, which cost about $16.

I was faced with a decision. Nobody knew but me. I could have the salt free of charge. But just because nobody knew, didn’t make it right. Even though it was not intentional, and the huge corporation that is Home Depot would never miss my $16, it still felt wrong in my gut.

Then I realized, this situation had the potential to build up my integrity, or chip away at it.

Here’s the thing: (1) the nagging feeling in my gut wasn’t going to go away; (2) and not paying could cost me far more than $16, because it would have undermined how I felt about myself. Not a good recipe for success.

What kind of man was I?

I had to choose whether I was the guy who did the right thing, or the guy who ignored my integrity to save a few bucks. So I went back and paid for the salt (it did take me a few days to get back to the store).

This experience also gave me an opportunity to set a good example for my son, Max, who was with me this time. I explained to him what had happened and why I made the decision I made. This made the cost of those two 40 lb. bags worth their weight in gold.

But wait.
Before you start thinking I’m acting all high and mighty about this, I’ll admit there have been times where my integrity has wavered. And although it’s always over small stuff, I find myself wondering –
 how much integrity is enough?

Is burning an occasional CD from the library really “small stuff,” in the cosmic scheme of things? When compared to murder, stealing and infidelity, I’d have to say yes. Does that make it right, acceptable, or just plain rationalized? I think we all have a sliding scale of what seems like a breech of integrity and what does not. But where do we draw the line?

And remember you are not alone…

The Politics of Parenting: Don’t Lie to Your Kids

In life, we can’t insure that the Presidential Candidate of our choice will win. We also can’t control what the President, or any political figure, will say or do once elected.

But if we look at some of the ethics we’d like to see in our politicians, we CAN make sure we’re applying them in our own little country we call home.

Welcome to the first installment of The Politics of Parenting: Don’t Lie to Your Children.

Let’s take the recent John McCain incident as an example. He was supposed to appear on The David Letterman Show for an interview. If you haven’t heard the story, Senator McCain backed out of the appearance, saying that he had to get back to Washington immediately to help with the economic crisis.

McCain then proceeded to tape an interview with Katie Couric BEFORE he made his way back to Washington. Obviously this interview was more important to the Senator than the Dave Letterman appearance.

But the point is McCain flat out lied. And with that lie comes loss of trust & loss of credibility. The same is true of parents that lie to their kids.

Kids are not stupid. They know when we’re lying. More importantly, they deserve the truth.

If we’re going to lie about something, big or small, how can our kids ever be sure we’re telling the truth? I’m not saying you have to be brutal in how you share the truth, it can be offered in an age-appropriate way.

Even if we have good intentions, trying to protect our children with a lie is not the best choice. When we hide the truth from them, we rob them of the opportunity to learn a valuable life lesson. This shelters them from a reality that might one day be present in their lives as adults (like money issues, death, or relationship problems). I think our kids will fare better if we’ve given them a foundation of what to expect from life and how to deal with it.

Protecting the integrity of our relationships with out kids has far better long-term results. It gives them a sense of security & safeness. It helps them feel like “real people,” because they’re included (again in an age appropriate way) in what’s going on with the family. This helps them grow into healthy, high-functioning adults.

If our kids have lost faith in our word, how can we expect to be trusted  — especially during stressful or major life changing situations? Even if it’s a “small lie,” you can not realistically expect your kids to listen to your advice or suggestions after you’ve undermined the relationship with a lack of trust.

McCain could have said: “Sorry Dave, I can’t make the show tonight. As you know, there’s an economic crisis I have to attend to. I also have a news interview scheduled with Katie Couric, and I simply can not break that interview. Plus, I’m really old and I need a nap. Is there any chance we can resehceule when things calm down?”

Sure, Dave may have still been pissed, but at least he’d have the satisfaction of knowing the possible future President told the truth. If he’s lying about trivial things like this, can we trust anything he says?

If your kids can’t trust you to tell the truth, who can they trust? Certainly not John McCain.

Here’s what Letterman had to say about what happened thing…

And remember, you are not alone…

The $5,000 Tooth! (and the deconstruction of America)

I’m starting to feel like The Bionic Man. Not because of any special powers or enhancements like telescopic vision (heck, I’d settle for 20/20), or the ability to run faster than a cheetah.

No, I’m talking about a tooth. A solitary tooth, which I failed to properly take care of when I had a cavity years ago.

Ka-ching! Root canal, $2,000.

Present day. Root canal’s still good. But I’m told the tooth is cracked, oh well…

Ka-ching! $3,000 for an implant.

An implant? Couldn’t they think of a more friendly name? I feel like I’m in an X-Files episode. For that price you’d think they’d at least include something high tech  like a blue tooth implant.

Point being (other than complaining), in today’s economic climate with most of us up to our eyeballs in debt, how are we supposed to get ahead? Or simply break even when the cost of living is so high? There’s only so much fat you can cut, and there’s only so many hours in a day that can be divvied up between work and family.

And yet this country spends BILLIONS of dollars “fighting” a war for the “spread of democracy.” How about the spread of economic independence for Americans? If George Bush thought more about the people of this fine country, instead of the profitability of oil, maybe I wouldn’t gag (no pun intended) at the thought of such expensive dental work. 

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a “turn the other cheek” world. And we don’t live in a world where disputes are always resolved through talking and cooperation. So yes, we have to defend ourselves. But I’ve heard that the USA gave Osama Bin Laden somewhere in the amount of 3 billion dollars prior to September 11th. How much good would that have done for America? But to gain leverage and power in the Middle East, this money was given to a man who masterminded a terrible day. Nice work with that investment there.

And if no “weapons of mass destruction” were really found in Iraq, then why attack? Oh yeah, power & profit. Then we get to pay over $3 for a gallon of gas. It appears that “spreading democracy,” as George Bush puts it, is pretty hard on everyone but the rich here in America. And the deconstruction of economic foundations is global. That’s how influential our country is. In a very real way, we’ve become the heart of the world.

I’m left with a troubling question: Who has the guts, the brains and the determination to make this a better world for our kids? Who has an honest soul and a heart that cares more about helping Americans than making a buck?

I feel like there’s a cavity eating through America and there’s no dentist to be found not at any cost.

Your thoughts and opinions are welcome.

And remember, you are not alone…

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