Monday, July 26, 2010


Let the acting begin, I thought, and prepared to lay out the script that Ethan and I had prepared--details that might be useful as Robert attempted to build connections among the city's supernatural population.
-- Chloe Neill, Friday Night Bites

Let's talk about honesty and integrity. In particular, I would like to address self-honesty.

It was a long time ago, but when I was 19, I made a vow to myself that I would always be honest to myself from then on. The significance of my pledge was that I had to listen to my conscience when I wasn't honest to others. I wasn't going to let myself candy-coat the things I was doing, but instead try to understand the full impact of what living in what I called "survival mode" did to others. In fact, in order to be convincing in your lies to others, you have to deny yourself the fact that you did it.

And once you start lying to yourself, you can no longer trust yourself. Your faith in your visions becomes shattered, and you don't know who you are anymore. Part of your acting has become real, but what is real anymore. And once you don't even trust can't put trust in other people. You fail to see the good in them, only the "survivor" like yourself. In essence, you have lost your self-integrity.

So being honest to myself meant being honest to other people. meant not stealing from, taking advantage of, or harming people in any way. My best friend, my ex-roommate, had gone from shoplifting LP's (Long Playing Records, AKA albums) to stealing furniture from a store that he worked at. He marveled at the things he had access to take, while working at the university stadium working as a police dispatcher.

And I started to follow along in his footsteps, only I believed in taking things that I found more practical, like the TV that he helped me carry from storage to our apartment. After we moved to separate apartments, I "acquired" a telephone, which I removed from a dorm near my apartment, because someone left the window open. At the convenience store I worked at, I jokingly labeled a jar "starving students," trying to get people to donate their change to the legitimate charity jar sitting next to it, by asking customers which charity they'd prefer donating the change to. I was surprised to see them drop the coins, clinking, into the "starving students" jar, even when I told them it was only a joke and would only go to help me get my electricity turned back on--which was not a lie.

They trusted me. And I wanted them to continue to trust me. I learned that day that if people can trust you, they will help you out when you need it. Of course, the money was not enough to pay the electricity bill, but I had deep respect for the community. That's when I made my personal vow about self-honesty. I will always be honest to myself.

Shortly, after that, I was practically accused of stealing out of the till, something I would never do. Besides violating trust, I knew the money was counted every night. I was living in a more honest survival mode. Instead of throwing out all the deli sandwiches at night after I had marked them as loss because they had expired, I would microwave one as my dinner. I wasn't stealing or deliberately marking things off, but neither would I ever volunteer that I was eating garbage.

The day after I was accused of stealing from the drawer, using the evidence of my "charity jar," I started calling in sick. I decided that I couldn't return to a place of business that doubted my integrity, especially living under the conditions I was. I quit.

When we create a vision of a deceitful life, we don't leave room for an honest one. We can get so wrapped up in "survival mode" that we start deliberately harming others. Shoplifting is one example. When others find out about your deceit, they can never trust you, feeling that you might bite their hand if they try to feed you.

And in the worst case, you'll go to jail or be killed over it. Having misdemeanors of shoplifting on your record will not only preclude you from getting a professional job, it can even stop you from working at McDonald's.

So if you are living in "survival mode," before you hurt someone else with your actions, swallow your pride and keep your integrity and begin by asking family, friends and neighbors for help, before you lose them all.

Hugs and God Bless,


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