And now I have a question to ask you and I am hoping that you have an answer because it’s got me stumped.
This question requires a little preliminary background. Just a little; please don’t run away! Please allow me to tell you a little about the place where I live…
In the place where I live, we have values. We are very committed to these values. They are what set this place apart from all of the other places. Our values are our pride and joy!
We value freedom. Freedom in our choice of religion. Freedom in what we can say. It’s probably not like that where you live and that’s okay. It’s only to be expected because no other place is a place like the place where I live.
We value equality. We value a thing we call “due process of law,” which is a fancy term meaning that for everyone – no matter who you are – there are certain identical steps we go through before we throw the book at you.
That’s a big one with us!
There are other ones, too, but the important thing to remember is that in the place where I live, we have some wonderful values and it’s these values that make us and our place so special.
With me so far?
Surely you can see why, in such a special place, it is important to do whatever must be done to defeat threats to our values. To save our values – freedom of religion, freedom of speech, equality and due process and the rest – we might have to ignore freedom of religion, freedom of speech, equality and due process and the rest.
A little bit. For a time.
Don’t worry about us, though. We’ve done this lots of times before. It’ll be fine.
It’s just like with me getting sober. I am one hundred percent committed to getting sober. It is important to me. I am going to do it… This just isn’t a good week, what with all the crap going on. I have never felt so stressed out.
A few years back, I worked at a nonprofit. It was a fantastic organization. We helped people. My boss held us to the highest standards. She was known for her honesty, integrity, and perfectionism. For this, she had been honored many times.
The organization received money from federal grants and the federal grants had rules. The rules said clients must give us certain papers and must sign certain other papers and we always followed the rules because it was a fantastic organization and my boss held us to the highest standards.
Once a year, the federal grants sent people down to double-check our work. To make sure we were following the rules. They had to do this because it was the law, even though they knew my boss and knew of her honesty, integrity, and perfectionism.
So every year before the grant visit, my boss made sure the client files were up to her high standards. She forged client signatures. She changed dates on applications. She created HIV lab reports out of thin air.
She had to do it. She had a reputation to maintain and the organization was a fantastic organization that helped people.
Here’s the part where I finally get around to my question.
We can all agree about the wonderful values we hold dear in the place where I live.
We can all agree about how much I value getting sober.
We can all agree about my old boss’ high standards.
So I ask you: What is the difference between people who hold wonderful values they don’t put into practice and people who don’t hold those values at all?