Lee Peyton sees a shift away from community values and a time when people stood by their word.
I attribute a lot of my influence growing up to my grandparents. Both sets grew up in the depression and knew far too much about war. America was once a nation of people priding ourselves on honor and integrity. The world we used to live in was a world where people could have a tab and it actually meant you were good for it, not that you were going to pay it right away. People were once more engaged in their communities, and once the community knew you were up to no good, or lacked integrity, you might as well move because it was only going to get worse.
Was that a perfect world, or an ideal system? Not at all. But since we have become less community-driven no one really knows anyone. At this point, what we think we know is often social media-driven hearsay.
What all this boils down to is a thing we’ve nearly forgotten; integrity. If you deliver on what you say, it’s still a grand thing. But the problem is so many of us have forgotten what true integrity is that people do not want to give each other a chance. It seems that current generations will do anything to achieve their means, and it’s happening on a level that’s a bit disturbing to me. We could question if people are being desensitized by all the things we have access to, or we could reason that with the world so connected now there is more light in the darkness.
It still comes down to integrity. Since the dawn of man, in all recorded history, everyone looked to the leader with honor. The leader that pushed, took care of his own, but was modest on the ego. I fear this ideal is dying. Until the modern age, a person was only worth as much as their integrity allowed. Do you think any great people of history would have gotten far without some sense of honor? Better yet if an icon like George Washington or Abe Lincoln lacked integrity do you think they would have achieved much? I stage both historical people because we could argue that Washington came from money, but did that keep him from fighting in trenches with men freezing to death for a beautiful idea?
History makes us remember these people, because of integrity. Integrity goes further though, if you hang out with bad people, not only will you be given a bad stigma but bad things will happen. You are perceived better or worse by your peers, not to say that discrimination is fair, but science proves time and time again that we are creatures obsessed with judgment. Even if we want our mantras to be otherwise this is still the case. Surrounding yourself with questionable people calls your integrity into question. All the things or money on the planet cannot save you from a lack of integrity or honor. This sounds dumb to modern day people because we are conditioned to chase after all these things.
The rat race — go to college, get a job that provides enough to impress everyone, marry someone everyone will envy, consummate that marriage, breed equally greedy consumers, repeat. At what point does that sound appealing? At what point do you accept you are not the sum of the things you own? They own you. So when you get that great break for a good job what got you that break? Was it the schooling, the training? Chances are it was someone you knew putting you at the plate hoping you wouldn’t strike out. This proves even in a society that’s currently being rewired to not concern itself with integrity, you just got a job interview based on the dead corpse of honor. Your friend or associate likes you enough and thought you were worthy to become a coworker. Would a Rolex or Ferrari help you achieve these things? The answer is no.
I’m not a religious man, but most American religions have one thing right, holding tightly to integrity and watching after each other based on that integrity. Every religious community I’ve experienced, although they may gossip about each other, will still go to surprising lengths to help one another out. There may be other sociological elements at play, but I feel it falls back to my thoughts on integrity. We have lived so long saying, “Who cares what people think,” and you are allowed to do that. Just make sure your actions and words speak louder than your apathy.
I’ve exceeded what any guy that barely graduated high school “should” have. I have a few friends who are in the same situation. What got us to where we are wasn’t some great buddy system, lies, or some other fantastical luck, it was integrity. You prove good as a person in all that you do, and people will notice. Sure, lots of hard work is involved, not to mention that people who have what their ego tells them is better (college education, “better” experience, etc.) trying to knock on your successes, but they could move as far or farther if they put in that hard work. Even in a world where honor and integrity are being forgotten it will still take you far, which is all the better reason to improve who you are if for no one but yourself. It’s not a matter of making everyone happy to be happy, it’s a matter of making yourself happy to be happy. Carry yourself with dignity and integrity; the world will know exactly who you are and what you are about. Let’s bring back what really matters and concern ourselves with that.