Thursday, July 28, 2011

Honor, Honesty and Integrity

These are the virtues I have always admired and aspired to. I have searched for these virtues in selecting my friends and my associates. I was not surprised to glimpse them only fleetingly as a child and teenager, but for some reason I expected to see them more often in the adult world. Instead, as an adult I see more dishonorable people, more perjurers, more individuals who seem not only to not care about integrity, but not to even know what the word means, and those who do not seem to recognize it as a virtue worth possessing.

Too many people I run into these days are calculating and out for as much as they can get, not caring who
they run over in their mad dash for success, or even for mere creature comforts. In other words, most of them would be sorted into Slytherin. There are times they do not even seem to profit, just to damage or defame someone else, and count it as some perverse victory.

I know - that sounds more like the angst-ridden plot of a young adult novel. And such jealousy, such competitive undercutting would ring true for that age group. But as adults we tell teens that bullying, cheating, lying about each other behind their backs - it will all get better when they grow up. But the truth is, it won't. We can only arm ourselves better to deal with it.

The handful of honorable men and women will attempt to surround themselves with others who possess the honor, honesty and integrity that they admire, and will remain shocked by the actions of the dishonorable people they encounter. The best attempt to change this that a writer can make is to honestly write about the dishonesty that young people can expect to find in the world they grow into, and to show them that the only possible way to change it is to hold the people with whom they associate to the same high standards they admire, and to shine the light on dishonor whenever they encounter it. Otherwise they (and we) will all remain the confused and frustrated teens we once were, who were shaken to the core when first we encountered injustice.

I am currently on a writing retreat with my writers group. I have been looking forward to this retreat since last year's retreat. I have eagerly been anticipating this time away from ordinary, day-to-day life to concentrate on revising my new young adult novel. And I'm making good progress. But at the same time, eating away at my concentration is outrageous injustice that my family is facing - due to the dishonor and malicious perjury of business associates. It infuriates me and it erodes the very idea that there is any sense of honor in the world we live in.

Every encounter with dishonor diminishes all that it touches - and makes it increasingly difficult to proceed with work and maintain one's own integrity. It is not fair to my family to put what they're going through out of my head in order to concentrate solely on my writing at this retreat, yet it's not fair to my book to let the injustice of the real world intrude into the world of my story. I'm trying to find a way to balance the two of them. I suppose I'll find out tomorrow, after our retreat ends, how well I've succeeded.

7 comments:

  1. First, in absolute privacy, you jump up and down, scream, and hit things.

    Then, you put it in the cupboard in your head where you keep things you can't deal with right now, and close the door. When you are calm enough to control your thinking and go over possible suitable actions, you open the door, take it out, and deal with it.

    Most people are scum. You and I can't change that. But we don't have to give them the power to destroy our work in addition to whatever power being scum gives them in the real world.

    And don't forget to give people who aren't scum full marks when they behave properly. It's hard to be good. It takes courage. Being bad is the default, so why spend energy focusing on it? I've found my misanthropy (which is fully and logically justified by experience) is much less debilitating now that I mostly shrug and disengage when other people behave badly. It's more empowering to focus on the times when people exert the energy to be good; even if it's just smiling when they hand you your change; even if it's just holding the door open for the person behind them.

    Happiness is similarly hard work and takes courage; and most bad people are pretty miserable. That smug self-satisfaction they get when they feel they've come out on top is a pretty feeble substitute for happiness. A lot of people seem to get their kicks making other people miserable as a kind of justification for their own misery - "Oh,you think happiness is possible? I'll show you it's not! How dare you think you're happy when I've got this big sucking hole in me? How dare you be better than me? I can make you as bad as I am!"

    Do not abandon your moral high ground. A certain part of you will always be out of their reach as long as you maintain it.

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  2. Thanks, Peni -I've done the screaming and throwing things... the catch is that sometimes the scum really do have the power to seriously injure the honorable, and you can't always just disengage; but you're so right about the importance of acknowledging and appreciating the good people, like you.

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  3. I'm so sorry that heartless people are causing you and your family such pain. A former coworker used to say "life isn't fair," and there are times when I despair about humanity, but I try to surround myself by the nicest people possible so I can remember that there are folks out there who still good and kind.

    I hope you were able to balance and honor both your family and your story.

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  4. I like your story. And Can me speak with you by email? My email is penny.vn@gmail.com. Thanks you very much.

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  5. Honor, Honesty and Integrity? You have absolutely none. Your book on the Leo Frank case (2010) is filled from beginning to end with sloppy research, lies, smears, cherry picking, date bungling, fabrications and errors. You have not a drop of honor, honesty and integrity, your book re-writes history and is filled with lies. You should be ashamed of yourself. Sincerely, M. Cohen

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  6. M. Cohen: Do you have citations for your claims? I have known Elaine for many years, and she was not a sloppy researcher.
    FYI to all, Ms. Alphin suffered a stroke in August 2011, and passed away 19 August 2014.

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  7. Jewish-American Professor Allen Koenigsberg of Brooklyn College pointed out at the reviews section of Amazon, a number of serious errors Elaine Marie Alphin made in her book. Dr. Koenigsberg is probably one of the most knowledgeable Frank case scholars alive today.

    You can go to Amazon and look up Elaine Marie Alphin's book about the Frank-Phagan case and read all about her sloppy research, falsifications, slanders, smears, defamation and shameless omissions she made in "An Unspeakable Crime: The Prosecution and Persecution of Leo Frank".

    Elaine Marie Alphin died without Honor or Integrity for all the ugly lies and fabrications she intentionally perpetuated in her book.

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