Sunday, August 27, 2006

That's TeRRiFiCC

In case you think my spelling and my typing has gone to pot, I deliberately spelt it that way.  Now you are going to have to read on to find out why!


I get a weekly email from Michael Josephson at Character Counts. Michael writes such excellent commentaries on right living (Ethics) that I really am so inspired. Well, The Josephson Institute has at its basis what it calls it’s Six Pillars of Character. They are:


  • Trustworthiness
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Fairness
  • Caring
  • Citizenship

Do you see it now, aren’t they TeRRiFiCC?


These 6 characteristics are indeed very important and someone who conscientiously practices all 6 must be a lovely person to know.  Maybe I should say, “a Terrific person.”


If we were to take a closer look at each of the qualities in this list we could learn a lot:


TRUSTWORTHINESS – What makes a person trustworthy – Well the first thing that came to my mind was honesty. How honest are we. Everyone I am sure likes to consider themselves as honest people, but as Mr. Josephson frequently points out, when it comes to self interest sometimes honesty takes a back seat, or is thrown out the window. Honesty means not stealing or defrauding others. Honesty means speaking the truth in court and in every other respect. Honesty means doing an honest day’s work for day’s pay – not calling in sick when you feel like a day off. Honesty implies that you do not tell lies to avoid penalties or taxation or to gain more than your due. But those things are obvious, but there is also the honesty that goes to whether you are telling yourself the truth. You might think thsat is a nonsense statement, but people often lie to themselves. They find themselves in a bind or a difficult situation and they try to justify actions that they are know are wrong. They try to blame anyone else for their bad situation but themselves. They make excuses. I’ve been there. When one is living a lie, you cannot really be trustworthy, can you?


Trustworthiness also means that you can keep a confidence, where necessary. As an employee of a company you may be entrusted with key information and data that is confidential, only to be shared with authorised persons. As a teacher I have had information about students that is confidential. I am bound by contract not to divulge such information to any unauthorised person. Doctor’s, Lawyers and clergy are entrusted on a daily basis “privileged” information. They are expected to keep such information confidential. However there are instances where even though an individual may ask you to keep something confidential, because the information may be harmful to themselves, or others, a person of trust is honour bound (as well as legally required) to divulge such information to the relevant authority. However there is no room for a gossip. Someone who gossips, or who starts rumours will find that they will in time lose their friends.


Someone once said to me, “If someone betrays your trust, the Bible says you must forgive them, it doesn’t say you have to trust them [again]” Another way of putting it would be: “We have to love our neighbour, but it’s still wise to lock you doors.” (in other words, you don’t have to trust them.


The Bible says: if you have proved faithful in the small things God will give you the big things.


Here I think it is relevant to share a personal story: In recent weeks, I have been using my father’s car to move around. I was using it often and although my Dad would routinely remind me of how precious this car was to him and that he was not in a position to replace it, deep down he really did trst me with it and I returned each time with it, until a few weeks ago, when, I started to get too casual, and I was driving it too fast, and the inevitable did happen, I had accident in it, and the left rear panel was badly damaged. I felt awful and rather nervous about how my father would react when he heard about it. But I drove straight home, and went inside and I told my father what had happened. He asked me how the accident occurred and I had to admit that I was driving too fast and lost control of the vehicle. He was cross, of course, but he has forgiven me. I still have to pay him for the cost of the repairs, which I will do.  


Next  instalment I will try and right about RESPECT.