integrity, wisdom and courage

Everybody has a motto. The Marine Corps has “Semper Fidelis” (the Latin for “always faithful”). Most law enforcement agencies use something along the lines of “To Protect and Serve”. The Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared”.

I think as individuals we have mottos as well. They may not be as well polished or clearly stated as one of the high profile organizations listed above, but we all have a guiding principle that shapes our thinking and guides our choices and, thus, defines us.

Over the years my motto has become “Integrity, Wisdom and Courage”. These are the principles I try to use in every situation I face as a litmus test of how I should respond to life in all of its intricacies. These are the characteristics I want to be remembered for. I don’t want anyone having to consult a Hallmark card writer to find something cute or pithy to write on my tombstone that will try and skirt the reality that defined my life. These are the characteristics I remind my children of regularly in emails and texts because, more than money or possession, this is the legacy I want to leave and the inheritance I want to hand down!

It seems as if these characteristics are more and more in short supply. It seems as if everywhere we look they are being compromised. I realize that every generation says that. However, the truth is in every generation you can find the corrupt, the foolish and the cowardly as well as integrity, wisdom and courage. So what causes us to think things are worse now than they use to be? I think it’s this – the moment we begin to question the character of our society we are pulling the veil of pretense back and, in so doing, we not only see the hypocrisy of others, we see our own hypocrisy as well and we, maybe for the first time, count the cost of what it means to be virtuous. That brings us to a moment of decision. Will we justify our behaviors to maintain our comfort or will we pay the price demanded by integrity, wisdom and courage?


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