Thursday, November 21, 2013

the only honest men?

It's kind of sad that television shows are inspiring all my reflections these days. It's a testament to the fact that I'm watching more shows than I am reading books. I don't like this on principle, but these shows are hard to resist!

And speaking of violating your own values, the last episode of The Sopranos I just watched really got me to thinking about integrity. It was Season 4, Episode 7: Watching Too Much Television (kind of ironic title, I just realized).

Anyway, at one point two characters are discussing a dirty deal they just made and this interaction takes place (I hope reprinting this isn't highly illegal or anything):

Character 1: You ever feel bad about any of this? 
Character 2: - What do you mean? 
C1: When I think about where we started out I used to think what I did made a difference.
The anti-drug programs, the voter drives.
C2: But over the years it's like shoveling shit against the tide, you know that.
C1: I guess.
C2: You cut corners, but you help out.
Do the best you can.
If it ain't us, it's going to be somebody else.
Really, I mean What are we supposed to be, the only honest men?
C1: We were going to lead a revolution.
C2: Revolution.
The revolution got sold, Ronnie.

C1: You heard the Beatles for H&R Block? Sometimes I feel like I should be punished.
C2: Come on, let's get something to eat.

I sincerely try to be a good person, a moral person, a person following the ways of Christ. I desire in my heart to treat everyone with kindness, love, and respect. But it's difficult. I fail frequently. Daily. And I'm sincerely trying.

What about people who aren't even trying? Don't care?

When your heart is awakened to truth and goodness, you want to embody it and share it with the world. But when that sincere desire is met with cynicism, mockery, and dishonest gain it is easy to become discouraged. What exactly is the point in being good when everyone else is bad and you don't gain anything from it anyway? I think this questions is probably even more difficult to answer when people find themselves in positions of power, fame, or wealth.

But even for myself - a person of little to no power, fame, or wealth, I ask the question. Why should I do things "the right way" when so many others in my position aren't? Why shouldn't I give up hope? Why shouldn't I drink more? Why shouldn't I just have fun with this guy? Why shouldn't I be selfish and petty and a gossip? Everyone else does. And what will I gain by not?

When you feel absolutely all alone, how do you remain "the only honest men"?

And do you even always want to be? Are there sometimes greater goods that are facilitated by less than upright means?

For me, these answers are found in my beliefs about what Jesus is like and what the Bible teaches, but that doesn't make it easy.

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