The topic of a person’s ‘integrity’ has been a focus of several conversations in my private life recently. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that the topic of integrity and it’s lack have been the focus.
There was a time when saying “I give you my word” actually meant something. It meant that this ‘word’ was as sound and as concrete as any physical object may be. Business agreements were formed, executed, and completed on ‘one’s word’, alone, without the necessity for contracts, and lawyers, and the reams of paperwork that we need to rely on these days in order to ensure that a person’s ‘word’ is held to.
Why? Because, back then, people had a significant amount of personal integrity, and prided themselves on this fine character trait. If someone ‘gave you their word’ then you could expect that what they had promised in doing so, would be fulfilled. Persons even went so far as to ensure that the circumstances surrounding what they gave ‘their word’ on would still be acted upon in the event of their unexpected death! Yes. It is true, dear reader.
Those same people who gave ‘their word’ simply would not do so, unless they were absolutely certain that they were able to hold to ‘their word’. It was not worth the loss of their own personal integrity to do anything but keep that promise. Giving one’s ‘word’ was a solemn promise. One’s word was akin to a Sacred Oath that should never be violated and those who did violate this Sacred Oath were scorned and mistrusted; their very characters were suspect for the rest of their lives and, quite often, their personal and business reputations were irreparably damaged or, in some cases, ruined completely.
These days, we still hear that saying. These days people still say “I give you my word”. However, with the loss of a sense of pride in having personal integrity, along with the loss of personal integrity, itself, has come a loss of any real meaning behind the phrase.
Now, there are still people around whose ‘word’ means the modern day equivalent of what it once meant. I have the utter pleasure of knowing one such person and I can tell you, quite sincerely, that it is an utter pleasure to know this person. This person’s unshakeable and firm sense of personal integrity is one of the very things that makes them so special and, quite sadly, so unique.
How many of you reading this journal entry can say that you have heard someone say “I give you my word”, only to discover that it meant absolutely nothing at all?
How many of you reading this journal entry have said “I give you my word”, and have not followed through on it?
“Oh, but Mistress Savannah, sometimes things happen. I meant it when I said it, but <insert excuse here>” And I do mean excuse. If you cannot, or do not, intend to keep to your word then the remedy is quite simple: Do not give it to begin with!
“Oh, but Mistress Savannah, I am sure he meant it when he gave me his word, but then <insert excuse here>”. You have just had someone break a promise to you, and you are making excuses for them? Where is your own sense of pride and self-worth? Here’s a hint…you’ll probably find it in the same place as the oath breaker’s personal integrity.
It really is quite simple, dear reader. If you think that having personal integrity is an antiquated character trait in contemporary society then I urge you, quite strongly, to think again. Personal integrity, and a lack of it, still say a lot about who you are as a human being. It is indelibly tied to your personal reputation.
Unfortunately, these days, with the exception of one or two people I know, if someone says “I give you my word” to me, my automatic response is “Oh really? That’s nice. Now, sign here! Yes, right there, on the line I have put a small x next to. And here, on this page. And again here, here, and over here. And on this last page, please sign here”.
As it would appear that the world is now overpopulated with persons whose word means nothing at all, is it any wonder that so few people have trust in others? If that is not bad enough, this lack of the ability to trust also affects those few whose ‘word’ can be trusted. They are doubted, along with everyone else.
You must be able to live with yourself. At the end of the day, when you climb into bed, you are alone with you and your personal reputation, no matter who may share that bed with you. And, if you are an oath breaker, a person with no integrity, or someone whose word means less than the oxygen required to speak it, then I will give you the same parting words that I gave a particularly despicable human being that I once knew: “I do not need to point out your massive list of personal flaws because, wherever you go, there you are and, do you know what? That’s got to suck!”