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Showing posts with label honor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label honor. Show all posts

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Pettiness: Only Appropriate for Tom and Richard

For a few fortunate people being 'Petty' is a very profitable and successful way of life:  Just ask Richard and the family of the late Tom Petty.   Being 'Petty' has worked very well for them, indeed.   However, I've found that being petty or pettiness usually doesn't work well and doesn't really better our lives and those around us in the long term.  I believe whatever short term 'benefits' we get from being petty usually come at a cost.  Below is what I see as the 'cost' and 'benefits' of pettiness.

'Cost' of pettiness
  • Makes you look smaller.
  • If it is in response to another person's own pettiness, you've given them a victory by agreeing to their rules of engagement.
  • You give up energy (emotion/physical/spiritual) that can and should be devoted to more productive endeavors.
  • If it is born out of conflict, you lose the opportunity to defuse or end the conflict and instead may add fuel to the conflict.
  • It can invite a unpleasant response from the target of your pettiness, especially if they can see it for what it is.

'Benefits' of pettiness
  • Gives you temporary 'satisfaction' of having punished to someone.
  • If in response to conflict, you are announcing there are consequences for another creating or pushing conflict.
  • It can be a way of making a point with limited effort.
  • It can sometimes actually allow you to get your way.   Some people, just don't like petty conflict and just will try to avoid it.

What pettiness is not (and why it should be avoided):
  • Being the bigger person in a conflict.
  • An exhibition of positive principles that the Golden Rule implies
  • Leading by example or setting a good example.
  • A way of breaking the stalemate in conflict.
  • Being a man or woman of honor.

My general philosophy has always been that I should hold myself to a standard that I'd hope for out of others, especially towards me.  Put another way: "Don't expect others to treat you a preferred way, unless you are willing to treat them that way as well."  For example, if I don't wish to be yelled by another, it is imperative that I do not resort to yelling at that person.  If I expect be treated like I know what I'm doing, I should start with the assumption that know what they are doing.  As it relates to pettiness, if I expect to be treated with decency from others and not pettiness, it is imperative that I do not choose pettiness as an acceptable way of treating them.  Sure, I might be able to get away with it and they may not immediately realize I was petty to them, but ultimately, I will and my Higher Power will.  Besides, I think even if they can't point a finger to a specific case of it, most people will eventually be able to sense pettiness (or disrespect) directed towards them.  For example, I could purposely badmouth someone behind their back, purposely get their order wrong without it being blamed on me or something like that.  However, eventually, the person who I am being petty to will likely catch on and I will have to pay consequences for it.

My takeaway about pettiness (in no particular order):
  • It's beneath us
  • It is a wasteful use of energy.
  • It is potentially a cop-out for dealing with resentment and other relationship issues.
  • It may not be a 'sin' per se, but it is clearly not in keeping with the golden rule

So, IMHO, we should do ourselves a favor and avoid it.  If it is masking relationship issues, then the deal with the underlying issues.  Trying to deal with it by pettiness is a long term loser.

Just my thoughts.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Honor vs. Duty vs. Checking off a Box

I was talking to a friend recently about family.  We came to the determination that sometimes a family's engagement with each other is colored by their faith or beliefs to the extent that they feel compelled to interact with each other.  The idea being that if certain members had their druthers they would pretty well ignore the others.  In other words since the "Good Book" says "honor thy father and mother" and the like, certain family members will humor the others out of a sense of "following the rules".   In other words, in order to be a "proper" Christian, Catholic, or whatever, you should be 'good' to family, even if it is just effectively for show.

We talked it about in terms of honor vs. duty, when I think what we really were considering was a third idea.  That is, checking off a box to their Higher Power or others they want to please.  The box says 'I did what I was supposed to' or 'I made an effort'.  Below, I will explore each of these concepts.


  • From the Army's website, is a matter of carrying out, acting, and living the values of respect, duty, loyalty, selfless service, integrity and personal courage in everything you do. I believe this is commonly how people see it.
  • Essentially, it is doing the right thing because you know it is the right thing to do.  That is to say, you wish to live a life of respect and purpose.  Respect not just for our Higher Power & others, but respect for yourself.  
  • I see it as doing what you know is right and not looking back or second guessing, you just do (often without even pausing to think about it).
  • Many people join the military or otherwise take professions in which they put their life on the line due to a sense of honor.  They feel like they are meant to help others, it is their purpose.
  • I buried my mom, my dad & my immediate older brother out of a sense of honor.  The family needed someone who would make sure each was done right in their final journey.  This included planning & preparing for their memorials/funerals, giving them a respectful eulogy, directing obituaries & making sure that where a shortfall occurred that the funds necessary would be provided to make all of this happen.  It was very draining and it sure wasn't any fun.  But for me, I knew taking care of them and those left behind in those moments was just what needed to be done, period.

  • The English Oxford Living Dictionaries first definition of duty is as follows: A moral or legal obligation; a responsibility.
  • I separate it from honor, because I see duty as something that is often done because there is a requirement to do it.  Meaning, while you respect the legal or moral requirement to do it, there may not be a greater sense of purpose or 'honor' that goes along with doing your 'duty'.
  • While doing something out of duty may not be as noble of doing it out of honor, there is a certain level of respect that is earned for doing someone who does out of duty.  While it may not be as profound as the respect earned for doing something out of honor, it still deserves respect.
  • For me, duty might be making sure your child is properly clothed, fed, educated and kept warm and safe.  It could also be making sure you do your best to do your job well.  In other words, doing the things that we are supposed to, even when we are feeling tired or short on enthusiasm.

  • To me duty implies a sincerity of purpose.  I made this category to cover when we are doing something because we believe it is expected of us, because it will 'look good' or because we have this moral 'law-based' obligation to do it.  When we do something based on any of those, we are hollow inside about it.  In short, we are insincere about purpose and/or are going through the motions.
  • An extreme case of this is illustrated in the Bible.  In Matthew 23:1-12, Jesus condemned the Pharisees as zealots who would tie heavy, law-based loads onto those they led and make a show of 'observing the law' when in reality at best they were observing the letter of the law, but not the spirit of it.  They would often display their 'piety' publicly for show, while privately having no little or no piety.  They'd rationalize that they were set because they 'followed the rules'.
  • Sometimes, we have to check off a box when the rules or regulations or restrictions are so ridiculous that we are forced to jump through hoops (such as when starting a business).  However, what I am meaning is our personal actions being dictated by a need to make ourselves feel better (rationalize) or to appear proper.  An example of this is inviting nearby family over once a year on the holidays because our 'faith' tells us to love each other.  Yet, the balance of the year is spent ignoring them.  To me, that's not family, getting together with people because you are related to them.

I'm not sure what the takeaway from this particular blog is except this: Not everything we do in our lives is out of honor.  Many of our actions are done out of duty and there is plenty to be celebrated there as many do not even meet the basics of that.  However, I believe if our personal actions are largely dictated by the need to 'check off a box', then it is time we reexamine our lives.  That may mean stopping the insincere parts of our lives (such as pretending to be a friend, when we don't want to be one) OR adjusting our frame of mind (respecting that God gave us family and even if they aren't perfect learning to appreciate the gift of family he gave us).

I know this seems like a bit of a judgmental blog, but when often times when I write, I write with a mirror in hand to examine where I can improve or meet  the ideals I espouse.  After considering a little, I guess my secondary takeaway is to be honest with yourself and what animates your action(s).  Only by reflection can we improve.

Thanks for reading and I hope to post again soon.

-- Rich

I believe Eric Clapton honored the memory of his son with this song.  This was a love song to his son who passed way too soon.  This song often brings tears to my eyes listening to it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Losing everything else, but keeping ourselves

In a previous blog entry, The Fine Line: Failure takes no effort, success takes a lot of work, I observed that failure is a essentially a default position.  That is to say, failure comes 'naturally' by effectively doing nothing.  Success typically takes a lot of effort.

It occurs to me that a corollary of that point is in this life, if we live long enough, we face profound loss.  Loss is hard to avoid.  Also, even when we gain, it is usually temporary.  Even the 'permanent' gains can lose some of their edge.  In other words, there is always a degree of loss, even profound loss.  However, we don't have to be lost.

I will go over my concept--losing everything else, but keeping ourselves--and give what I see as a backstop to looking at life as hopeless.  First, losing.  On our travels through life many things pass. These are just a few of them:
  • Most people when they are born, spend a lot of time around one or both parents.  We get the attention and love, warmth, the security, the attention of them.  In time, as kids get older, their parents realize that they can't just hold onto their 'little one' forever.  They must allow their little angel to fly.  From the perspective of a kid, it is gaining their freedom.  From the perspective of a parent it is the loss of sharing joy and love with their child.
  • People come and go in our lives.  It is hard to lose someone we thought was our friend.  Sometimes, it is in a dramatic destructive fashion. Sometimes, people just drift apart. Other times, they just stop reaching out or back to us and we don't know why.  Even when it is not a dramatic exit, it the sense of loss is still present when friends just move away or fade out.
  • Loved ones pass away.  It can be the loss of those very close such as close family or friends.  It could be a friendly familiar face.  It could be a beloved fixture in the background we never got to meet such as Carrie Fisher.  Regardless, a passing still has a sting to it.
  • Our youth, our energy, our health fades.  The carefree nature of youth is lost to adult problems to where we miss the romanticized version of our youth.
These things, if we let them, can make our glass seem half-full or less.  These things can make us seem like we've lost more than we've gained or have.  But, I have learned in a much less dramatic fashion than Job, Anne Frank, or MLK that there is one thing that we can only lose--and therefore feel lost--if we choose to give it away or let it go.  That one thing is OURSELVES.

We can lose a lot in our lives, but we won't lose ourselves and be lost if:
  • We keep our self-respect and dignity.
  • We keep our honor.
  • We keep our basic sense of fairness and decency.
  • We keep our sense of who we are (our roles).
  • We keep our faith and purpose.
  • But most of all we keep our relationship between us and God (our Higher Power). All else flows from this.
So, let this world and this life try to keep us down.  Let this world and this life try and defeat us. We can lose everything, but we are only truly defeated and lost if we lose ourselves.  

* If you like this blog post, I think you'll like:
Always darkest before the dawn: Cleaning requires a bigger mess first

In the spirit of a man who lost everything (his life), but did not lose it all.  MLK kept his pride...