Flipping through an old notepad from 1994, I happened upon an entry from May of that year that brought back a poignant memory which has a timeless relevance. My mission on that day was an errand trip for one of my employers (I often have two or more at a time) which lead me to a local hardware store to procure a couple of band saw blades. These were made into "bands" by pulling a measured strip of blade material off a stock roll, cutting it, and electrically welding it end to end to form a useable loop that would fit your machine. Not a special operation in and of its self.
What made such a mundane task so memorable was the person performing the task. An older gentleman, early 70's, probably retired from some other career, but, with that particular firm since I had begun doing business there a decade earlier. While there were many much younger people employed there who could have managed the chore, this gentleman still set himself apart from the "watching the timeclock, rather be somewhere else" demeanor of the 20-somethings with his attitude. He was always genuinely interested in helping me, and businesslike in his execution of the task. He proffessionally and meticulously did the cutting, welding, and buffing as though he intended those blades to be the finest products the store had ever offered, and company reputation depended on it. Sincerity and integrity seemed to fill the air around that man, and the exceptional job he did was manifest evidence of the pride in workmanship he enjoyed in not only a job well done, but, in being able to demonstrate that it could be well done - for me. And he had no trouble displaying the same qualities to subsequent customers ad infinitum. I took the liberty of asking about his attitude, and, after thanking me for noticing, he explained that he came by it "honestly" as an adolescent, mainly the result of working with his father.
Now, the value of instilling such a legacy in families is so important that it will get it's own space later. But, while pride can and does get a bad rap in these days of political correctness, (unless it's displayed by a social group with an agenda) I believe it of intrinsic value to society in the propagation of civility, the lack of which is so emphatically decried. If you're confident in your own situation, that confidence is often noticed and literally "rubs off" onto other people, just like the smile that often accompanies it.
Once again, to paraphrase my 1945 reference work, (which will henceforth be cited as often as necessary) pride shows its self as a consciousness of "upright conduct", noble actions, or the like; a noble self esteem resulting from an appreciation of one's own dignity, character, or position; in other words, self respect. With the parenthetical allusion in the last paragraph duly noted, pride under these definitions must originate with motivation and integrity. Like respect, it must be earned by deeds guided by morality to be genuine, and cannot be appreciated, or, even warranted, without that legitimacy. With the credibility of that legitimacy, however, and, displayed in the manner of the gentleman at the hardware store, pride can be a powerful motivator for civil interaction in society from which we all benefit. It can move one from a collectivized, initiative lacking, and amorphous "yes, we can" to a self determining "yes, I will" and, ultimately, to a ruggedly individualistic and self reliant "yes, I did."
Pride is indeed something to aspire to. And, for the personal benefit, if for no other reason, I highly reccommend we all do.
Taking for granted that not all of us have the luxury of being able to always manage a positive outlook at work, let it be noted that the gentleman at the hardware store was not subject to the turnover rate of the other younger employees.
I would think that many of you have had a similar experience to mine that day long ago, but, can you remember how often or when?
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Hypocrisy. We all know what it means. Some of us more acutely than others. Simply, as I understand it, it is a tendency to say one thing and do another, usually, as the result of a breakdown of personal integrity. And, it runs a broad range, from, say, telling all your friends that you think one brand of beer in the clubhouse cooler is the most exquisite experience of your life so that they'll drink it, leaving your REAL favorite alone, to infinitely more serious issues, like infidelity in marriage, or, my favorite example, corruption in politics. In doing some cursory research on this subject, I consulted both my 1938 and 1945 dictionaries, each from different publishers, one a large library edition, the other a condensed school version. One indicated that it was "pretending to be what one is not; the putting on of an appearance of virtue which one does not possess". The other, while agreeing, added "a condition of thought and feeling different from that which appears; a deception as to real character and feeling, especially in regard to morals". The synonym list was also revealing; deceit, sanctimony, sham, pretense. Now, why would I, you ask incredulously, use antique dictionaries for research any more than you would use a 60 year old phone book to find a local tire dealer? Well, here's my reasoning: Because there is a tendency to "update" new dictionaries to reflect modern usage, which often includes corruption of terms that cloud the original meanings, I find it useful to use the older versions to filter out much of that corruption to get much more efficiently to the "root" of a meaning. While it's commendable of publishers to keep everyone abreast of the latest word and phrase coinages, I do not support the morphing of traditional meanings because the effect tends to be revisionism affecting the proper interpretation of rather important issues, like history, or documents, like The Constitution of the United States or the Bible, for example. So, while I've learned an appreciation for newer references for obvious reasons, I found it necessary to defer to non-corrupted authorities to determine the real meaning of hypocrisy. I found it significant that there were references to it at least as far back as the writings of the Bible, (And the hypocrite's hope shall perish. -Job viii. 13.) which indicates that it was a concept that was historically well known. As to my reference works' publishing dates, it was very active at that time in Europe under the Nazis, to be sure. And, it has certainly shown its ugly head back through the times of the Roman emperors, and further still, to the reaches of recorded history. But, I like to think that, unlike this day and age, where it's so rampant as to be accepted as normal behavior, especially in government, there was a time in these States where hypocrisy was far enough below the general public's moral standards as to not be prevalent enough to warrant public mention, let alone attention. The sanctimony displayed by people practicing hypocrisy, and, which almost always attends it, is demonstrated to give it implied credibility. Ironically, however, that too is a hypocrisy, as hypocrisy cannot by definition logically support credibility. It merely provides, unfortunately, a healthy foundation for cynicism. It's all a sham. Therefore, those who practice it cannot be logically supported, either. But it continually amazes me how many and how much are supported illogically. In this era of brazen hypocrisy, the very best defense against the pestilence it can visit on our lives is vigilance, so while one might find it acceptable to run a red light at a quiet intersection to rush home to vote for a candidate on a television talent contest, a more important vote to risk life and limb for by far is the one on Election Day. Take the time, learn the truth about the issues and candidates, and don't let hypocrisy become completely mainstream by allowing those who practice it to gain power. Since this blog is a new undertaking for me, it will obviously see refinement, so I will not be offended by critiques, although, I will choose as to whether to consider them. Thoughts?