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What If No One Found Out

 
“The measure of a man's real character is what he would do if he knew
he would never be found out.”  ~Thomas Babington Macaulay

What If No One Found Out?
 
Yesterday one of my chronically late coworkers remarked to new employee who is following in her footsteps and arrived twenty-five minutes late, "It doesn't matter, our supervisor isn't here," with the implication being that since he wasn't present to note the tardiness it wasn't a problem. We see examples of that kind of thinking everyday, no only in the workplace but also in our relationships and at home.  (My wife doesn't know I'm cheating on her, my parents don't know I'm skipping school, my brother doesn't know that the money he loaned me is really so I can buy drugs, my friend doesn't know I told her that I'm sick so I could hang out with someone else, etc.)  What they don't know won't hurt them, or us.  Or will it?  Whatever happened to personal itegrity?  Just as the quote says above, true character isn't about the public image we portray, it's about the kind of person we are inside... what we believe, how we determine right from wrong, and how we conduct our lives whe no one is looking. 
 
 There are so many ways we cheat at life... petty theft, little white lies, half-truths, cutting corners when it comes to being stand-up people who follow thru on what they say and keep their commitments. But when we do that we are only fooling ourselves.  Deep down we have that little nagging voice that says "you're faking it, you're pretending to be someone/something you're not."  When we allow ourselves to start chipping away at that line between true and false we allow for further erosion of our character, until we become someone who is no longer capable of determining right from wrong, who finds a way to blur the black and white line in everything they do... situation ethics, always finding some way to justify our behavior.
 
The bottom line is that you may have other people fooled, or at least think you do, but you can never really fool yourself, and in the end you will have yourself to answer for.  Isn't it better to conduct your life in such a way that when you look in the mirror you like the person that you see?  Spend a moment reflecting on the content of your character, what would you do if you knew no one would find out?  Would you still do it if you knew they would?
 
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I'm linking up with Cate at Six Word Saturday... join us there!
 

14 comments:

  1. From working in the hospital where they had cameras I always assume there is one somewhere and I try not to make a fool of myself while being watched like pick my nose or something hahaha no I am kidding on the picking.
    I think someone will always find out in the long run. Great post wishing you a great weekend as well ','

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    1. Hi J! My last job had camera surveillance J, so I also learned to be very conscious of my actions. I agree that the things we think no one knows or will find out have a way of surfacing and coming back to haunt us. It's so much easier to mind our actions to begin with. If people finding out would cause you discomfort or worse, that's a good warning not to do it!

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  2. You are so right..."We can never really fool ourselves!" (Six Words)
    Every one of us need to give this post some thought. Character counts!

    Love, Linda

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    1. Amen Linda! It is not about getting caught, it's about knowing right from wrong!

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  3. That's how I would want to live my life, conducting it with dignity and honor, no matter if someone finds out about it or not. I couldn't live with anything else.

    betty

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    1. I agree with you, guilt is a heavy burden to bear, along with the fear that someone will someday find out, adding shame to the mix. Most of us know what is right and what is wrong, we just get into the habit of making excuses when we don't want to do the right thing, or when it takes more effort to do so. I want to be able to look myself in the mirror each night and say "You did ok today!"

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  4. Bah, I'm at work and on my phone. A proper response will have to wait.

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    1. I'm sure it will be worth waiting for, Monkey! :-)

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  5. Hi Josie!!! For sure you won't be late! [I had a friend and co-worker who was late for his own funeral. We always said that he do that on us, sure enough. I'll blog about it someday.]

    "What they don't know won't hurt them" has been around for a long time. Or will it hurt? I learned those words way before I ever heard of personal integrity. So there is a lot to overcome here.
    ..
    Got back late Monday night, hope to do 2-shoes for Tuesday.
    ..

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    1. Hi Jim! Glad to see you back among us. Looks like you had a wonderful adventure! You are right that we learned "What they don't know" at an early age. It is as we grow up that we learn the consequences of acting on that assumption. I fear that many people would struggle to define personal integrity, it seems to be in short supply. You are right, that I am never late, my dad was insistent we arrived everyplace early, and that upbringing is deeply engrained. I get really annoyed by folks who have no problem with holding up a whole meeting until they are ready to make a grand appearance, or expect everyone to take care of things on their behalf until they show. We are responsible to others as well as to ourselves! Will look forward to seeing you for TST! :-)

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  6. a man/woman may make a promise and we all know promises get broken, but to give your word that is your bond and should be held to the hightest level. I personally never want others to think less of me so I expect no less from others than myself as well and that is when I get in trouble as I have no problem calling someone out for 'stealing time' incompetency or irresponsibility, stealing or lying. grrrr gets to me everytime..sorry a soap-box moment there ;)

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    1. Those are two things that really bug me too Len, if I catch someone doing either, they have negated any trust I have in them. I don't want to spend time or have relationships with people who feel those things are ok. We can't always keep our promises, but we can own up to that and at least apologize and explain why. I believe that office rules should apply to everyone, that's the only fair way to do it!

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  7. I spent a big portion of my twenties giving in to the idea that I didn't need medical help for my depression. My smiles were there but family members always caught on to what was underneath and kept asking me what was wrong, my parents in particular.

    You can't really run away from your own inner demons. They will eventually catch up, but glad that they did, because now I can concentrate on other things instead of being bummed out all the time.

    Great post! =-)

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    1. Thanks for the awesome reply, Alex! You make a great point here that sometimes the person we are doing the most harm to when being deceptive, or not completely honest, is ourselves. Depression is a serious condition and it affects so many people I care about, including my daughter. I understand the struggle, how difficult it can make life, and how sometimes one wants to believe it isn't there, or that others aren't aware that something is wrong. The best gift you can give yourself is, just as you've stated, to level with your loved ones and let them support and encourage you as you find the best way to deal with your depression so you have have a full and happy life. Being honest... with yourself and others... can make one feel like a huge burden has been lifted - it's very freeing! :-)

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Your comments are always appreciated... they make me smile! :-)