What’s your most treasured value?

Hey there gang,

I hope this finds you having a better week than I. It’s not that I’ve had all bad things happening this week, quite the contrary actually in many respects I’ve had a fantastic week. However there is this very significant situation that has been presented to a loved one of mine and it is really challenging me on a new level. As you may know, when I’m troubled I often turn to writing an email in hopes that it will help me out my situation and ultimately figure things out a little.

A couple of weekends ago I attended a retreat, the same weekend I caught up with the Dalai Lama, and one of the many great exercises in personal awareness we did involved our values. We did a simple drill that brought us from a big list of values down to six. My final six values, the ones I cherish most, were wisdom, adventure, helpfulness, health, friendship, and integrity. We were then asked a series of five questions and upon answering those questions we were required to trade in a value. I was left with a choice between wisdom and integrity.  The final question was “if you could solve any problem in the world, hunger, war, cancer, what value would you trade to do it?”  I traded in my wisdom, which in my head was trading all the knowledge I have gained to cure my chosen world’s problem which very comfortably left me with my integrity.

I have had my integrity challenged on a couple of memorable occasions and it was an interesting experience. One that seemed to trouble those around me much more than me, as I do feel that I’m solid in that department. However, it seems that with my high regard for integrity also comes this expectation that others possess and act with it.

In the past five days I have seen such a shining example of some of the most gutless, reckless, self-serving, unjust behaviour I have ever witnessed. And the worst part about this situation is the behaviour is directed toward the person to which I am closest. I always recognized that my role of patient was ideally suited for me. While I make the effort to be very supportive when I see required, I would always choose to take the hurt my loved one’s experience. That is my strength; I will always gladly take anyone’s or anything’s wrath and deal with it directly. It’s in the indirect dealing, or the supportive role, that troubles me sometimes. This is one of those times.

I feel that when you are leader of an organization you have a responsibility to those you lead. In the face of this really terrible injustice I have asked myself this question “when you are in a position of power, and great responsibility, do you have a greater responsibility to act with integrity, to not just play within the rules, but do the right thing?

I thought initially, yes. But upon reflection I think no, my truth is we all have the same responsibility to do the right thing. Of course the definition of right and wrong is a personal one and therein lies the trouble for me. Granted, I have my bias towards any number of behaviours and situations, however I have learned that one significant part of my personality is that part that lets me be objective, neutral if you will, to evaluate and even judge a situation. I make the effort not to judge anyone’s actions, however when they lack integrity and, this is the key part, when they are targeted at a loved one of mine, I immediately want to act. This is where my challenge arises, as even when we were kids we learned you shouldn’t fight other people’s battles. However, fortunately we also learned that it’s good to help out your friends.

In this tough situation that we are facing the most significant way I can help at present is to assure that we will be ok, no matter how this issue plays out, we will be fine. I truly do know that we will be fine, and in fact better for having the experience once looking back from the other side.

In the absence of confronting this spineless piece of crap, I take comfort in two things: the words I heard from His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Sky Dome, “too much emotion is not a good thing” and also in my true belief in the law of karma: you experience or receive the energy you send.

Interesting growth I’m going through, not being able to control this situation and protect the one I love. And when I say we’ll be better on the other side of this challenge I really mean it and know it in my bones. Already this experience has reaffirmed my work at the retreat and my commitment to that sometimes elusive value of integrity.

Integrity is like attitude: it’s not everything, but for me it’s one of the most important things.

Always…
Live life. Love life.

Geoff

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