Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Sunday, August 15, 2010

C: Foxhole Epiphany

in·teg·ri·ty /ɪnˈtɛgrɪti/  1.adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty. 2. the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.  3.a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition

Do you ever have epiphanies of basic, simple concepts?  I’d like to say that I have flashes of genius in areas yet unexplored and undefined.  But, no, my “flashes” lead me to exclaim, “Eureka! Look what I’ve discovered!  The sky really is blue!” Only to see others shrug their shoulders and say, “Yeah, what else is new?”  I had one of these flashes recently on the definition of “integrity.” 

Iintegrity have a wonderful long-time friend who is so supportive of me.  And, yet, I found out that he is also supportive of my husband.  You know, the husband who has stolen money from my mother, who has abandoned his entire family, and who has left me with a butt-load of debt?  Yeah, that one.

I found myself wishing that my friend had told me upfront that he was doing this rather than acting like he was so very outraged by my husband’s behavior.  I’m getting used to the “we love you both” routine.  I guess I just felt a little fooled.

I can’t tell you how unsettling it is to find that my friend, who has offered advice and consolation in the grimmest times through my trial, is doing exactly the same for the “other side.”  Especially since his support seemed so absolute, decrying the acts which were the cause of my woes. 

This is so unsettling that I have been a bit confused by it, thought a lot about it.  My newest Psychology Today (July/August 2010, page 12)magazine has an article with a statement that fits here.  In considering where actions seem to conflict with words, the author speaks to a feeling that there is a “gap in knowledge” about someone, the article says:

It’s the whole reason the human brain freaks out when a picture is out of focus.  The brain likes coherent patterns.

I agree.  I like actions to line up with words.  Otherwise, the picture seems out of focus, for sure, and my brain freaks out.

 

The shock of this revelation was deepened by the fact that I found out abotauntut this through my husband, himself.  You know, he did not have to tell me that my friend was “there for him” too.  It did not come up naturally in the conversation. Hubby could not wait to tell me--it was totally gratuitous.  He loves the opportunity to say things like, “See, what I have done does not really matter to anyone.  No one judges me—everyone will get past it, and life will continue as normal.”

What gives? And I started to analyze. 

I think to some it sounds noble to “not take sides,” to be a friend and support to both in instances like mine.  But I’m thinking “noble” is not the appropriate word here.   

My friend is a “pleaser,” a super-nice guy and because of that he is always very pleasing to be around.  He smiles through most everything.  I have seen him deliver not-so-good news with a smile on his face, as if to soften the bad-news blow.  True, I have never seen him deliver devastating news, but still the smile has at times seemed out of place to me.  Discordant.  I’ve noticed it before.  And, yet, I would not have called him “insincere.”

Unlike me, who is paid to rock boats, my friend is not a boat-rocker.  In fact, I’ve realized, he will go to great lengths to avoid rocking the boat, sometimes to his own detriment.  Is this a positive attribute?  Is it even honest?

And I’ve thought a lot about the fact that his inability to cross folks works to his own detriment.  Indeed, he too has suffered damage at the hands of my husband because of his failure to cross him, to say “no” at times when common sense told him he should.  And, yet, he continues to act like nothing has happened, in spite of his own financial injury.  He’s been duped because of his reluctance to inquire (which might offend) on more than one occasion. 

It seems to me that if one has a moral compass and follows it, one will be led astray less often.  If you know someone one is a cheat and a liar to begin with, then it seems that you should take a stand against that—refuse to do business with those, for example, or you risk your own well-being.

Those Who Stand For Nothing, Fall For Anything" - Alexander Hamilton

Is all this just the Christian principle of “turning the other cheek?”  I’ve tried to make that fit, but I just can’t.  My instinct tells me that is not the real explanation.  That, rather than being a sign of Christian virtue, my friend’s response to our situation is, in fact, a symptom of something not so positive.

So, I started to think about integrity, because that is the word that kept coming up in my brain.  What is it?  In the past I have thought of people who lack integrity as people who might steal from you, cheat when the opportunity presents, or some other nefarious, clearly-bad behavior.  But my friend does not fit that mold.  He would be the last person I would call a “cheat” or expect to steal.  And, yet, I have come to question his “integrity.”  And I think my concern lies in the concept of consistency or soundness. 

In other words, his inconsistency (two-faced? not exactly…) calls intodouble-minded question the soundness of his whole ethical framework.  I like him very much.  He has been nothing but kind to me.  And, yet, I will not soon trust him so much as I have before because I am unsure of that ethical framework.

I guess what I expect of a person to whom I attribute integrity is consistency.  I expect to know what that person stands for, what he or she generally  thinks is right or wrong, and I expect his actions to be consistent with that code.  If they aren’t, then what is there to trust?

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.      James 1:8.

foxholeThis reminds me of the foxhole test.  Who are the people who you want to be with you in the foxhole in the midst of battle? 

Well, you’d want someone who can shoot straight, alright, but there’s more to it.  I submit that they must be those who have acted consistently, for whom you have a framework on which to  rest predictions of how they will act, what they will do.  Not only must they be honest and caring, they must be dependable, and I think this is where the nuance of integrity comes in. 

And so, because my friends’ actions are so discordant with the words he has given to me on numerous occasions, he seems unsteady to me somehow.  I remain his friend, I enjoy our time together, but I will not likely choose him for the foxhole.  Not reliable.  Out of focus.

Do I judge him too harshly?  C

14 comments:

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

I defined integrity for myself a long time ago as being consistent with what you do as if the person concerned is right there with you. If you would not do a thing if they were with you... it is out of line with integrity.

That said, sometimes it is difficult to be caught between two friends. For me, I usually am very clear on which side I will stand... and that's that. But... Life is complicated... for some more than others!

Vee said...

No, you do not judge him too harshly. In my own family, we have at least three of these types who are "there for everyone." I just hope that you won't share anything with him that you wouldn't want him to share with your ex. That's been going on in my family, too. One must learn whom to trust. Glad that you've found out before too much more water goes under the bridge.

carla said...

The first thing I want in a foxhole-partner is someone who won't shoot me in the back. From reading your post, it sounds like that's what you feel this friend has done to you- and I would, too in the same circumstance.

One of my family members is a pleaser, but to a lesser degree than your friend. He probably wouldn't say he was there for both involved in a conflict, but it's extremely difficult for him to take a stand or confront the wrong-doer. The occasions in which he did that were actually painful for him, but it gave me a new respect for him.

To me, loyalty is an almost lost virtue.

And this reminds me of something I wrote in one of my posts about paper crafting (yes, there is a tie-in): all those cute little embellishments that say things like Dream! Create! Inspire! etc... make me tired. What I need are these reminders: Integrity! Perseverance! Loyalty!

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I have always thought that the terms integrity and trustworthy went hand in hand.
I recently found myself in a situation with two friends at odds with one another. I listened to both sides and watched the actions of both and in the end I did choose a side. Each party involved knew that I was talking with the other, though.
I would not have expected either to find me worthy of their trust if I had not revealed my actions to them.

Happyone :-) said...

It's hard when both people are friends but there comes a time where you have to take a stand.
I am a pleaser type of person but only up to a point. Some things are worth fighting for!

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

I tend to be a pleaser too;I like to keep peace. I do believe we are to confront and shun those who are in defiant wrong.
Carla, I am so with you on those words that mean so much. Few people today are willing to take a stand or be truly loyal.
Stick Horse Cowgirl V

Vivianne said...

No, you're not judging him too harshly; in some ways, it is an echo of your husband - this friend has deceived you also. And if he deceives you about this, what else might be hidden ? Absolutely not foxhole material. But: shall you forgive him, or drop him ?

Debbie said...

I think you've identified a duck by the overwhelming features of feathers and webbed feet. He sounds like a benign fella that has little depth or width. Am I judging him too harshly? If there's anything worse than a judgmental person, it's one who doesn't seem to have any judgment or opinion about anything.
There are certain absolutes; if a man cheats my friend, he a cheat. If he steals, he's a thief. I cannot help but have an opinion about this AND avoid those who do these things so they have no opportunity to do it to me:) The guy is fluff; avoid him!

Immigrant Daughter said...

Sorry C, your friend is not a friend he just dropped to acquaintance A friend can't have it both ways. There is a right and a wrong and if he gives sympathy to the wrong he is no friend. Just wait and see the reaction when he is hit in his wallet and then see if the sympathy for the wrong applies the same way.

myletterstoemily said...

you are being wise. if this seems
harsh to some, then they are
judging you harshly.

we get to choose who we trust.

thank you for such a well written
essay on people we all have in
our lives.

Ayak said...

I don't think you judge too harshly. If this friend was in fact genuinely supporting both you and your husband, then he should have told you so.

(Are you sure your husband is actually telling the truth about the friend's support? Just wondered if he might just be stirring things because he knows this friend is supporting you?)

gaelikaa said...

Cynthia - your friend comforted you when you needed it. But if he is 'there' for your ex too, when your ex has so obviously mistreated you, it seems that he is just a people pleaser. That's too bad. I agree with what you've said about double-minded people. Forgive him and keep your distance now. That's what I would do.

KathyB. said...

You have put into words something I have struggled with. I have some people in my life, some relatives, some I thought ( like you) were friends, to be trusted. When i discovered they were "playing both sides" I was pretty much thrown into confusion. When I actually heard both of them ( at different times in different situations) flattering someone they told me they disagreed with strongly,I felt then and there they were untrustworthy. UNTRUSTWORTHY...and really, they are liars, aren't they? Either they are lying to us, or to our enemies/hostile friends & family.Or lying to both...so what do integrity and a liar have to do with one another...nothing!

This "being there for everyone" is a crock, and it means these fence-sitters are there for themselves only, they think it will go easier for them if they play all sides.( boy are they fools, this catches up to them you know) I have discovered their own families and friends ( including me) have grown to discount all they say because after all, empty flattering words are of no consequence.

As usual, thought provoking and comment provoking post~thanks!I hope you are able to forgive this person, it would be hard for me to, he has given your ex a great boost, and that alone says more about this persons' character, to the negative I must say.

KathySue said...

I do believe friends should accept that we all have our sins and failures...but that does not mean we condone them. If you don't challenge those blatantly sinning and causing harm to others....in my opinion your indifference is an endorsement. Have experienced your scenario first hand and that person no longer resides on my "friend" list!

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