9.28.2007,12:17 PM
Am I old fashioned?
Over the decades I've considered myself tolerant of many ideas and behaviours. I don't agree with all of them, but I respect other people's rights to their beliefs and opinions. That does not mean I have to respect their beliefs or opinions; just their right to posses and voice them.

Maybe I've been too tolerant. Or perhaps my values, personal and societal, are now archaic -old fashioned. Am I a dinosaur in this day and age? I don't think so; I've met other dinosaurs that share the same values and ethics. But they are becoming farer and fewer in between.

We're human. We are also big loud primates that have a knack for tools and throwing things. What separates us from our primate brothers and sisters is we have a cranium with gray matter that ticks differently. At some point in our evolution, a gene regulator conferred upon that gray and convoluted bologna-type mass the ability to think about thinking. Wham! Human consciousness was born and we all sat naked on rocks and chanted "I think. Therefore I am."

Then we all realized that if we stuck together in small groups we survived droughts, storms, and big-toothed cats, made each other laugh with stories, discovered the enlightenment of fermentation and avoided inbreeding (to some extent). Strength in numbers. And survival.

But any group of creatures has to have rules in order to avoid killing each other as well as facilitate hunting and gathering. We have morals. These may even be hardwired to some extent. We also have values; morals that extend beyond the individual and specific situations. They are universal across all contexts. Across all cultures. Across humanity. Consistency and practice of one's values imparts integrity.

The most important value, the most valuable, is honesty. Truth. No matter the times that one value has had positive and negative reinforcement over my life, I value honesty more than any other human trait and moral. Even if the truth hurts. Truthfulness, sincerity and respect are the first and foremost criteria in any relationship, no matter how superficial or deep. In hand with those traits is trust. The former are the foundation of trust. And the very fabric of any personal relationship; platonic and physical.

Over the past few years I have learned again the importance, and rarity, of those human traits. I've learned how fickle and flaky people are. Always cautious in trusting people, a few I have placed trust in have betrayed and deceived me. But I also have myself to blame for those experiences because I exercised poor judgment. Always be wary of a person that proclaims and professes he or she can be trusted. Invariably, the dragon will rear its ugly head and demonstrate they can not be trusted. Remember, words are words, actions are a demonstration and better indicator of the truth. And I should have known better.

More and more I am less inclined to trust people. But I can't stumble through the rest of my life not trusting anyone. If I can't trust anyone, I can't trust myself. And if I can't trust myself, I can't trust anything. But the sign on my back that says "Kick me here!" has come off and been thrown away. No more.

From now on trust will be measured by demonstration of honesty, sincerity and respect. I trust my best friend of ten years implicitly; because I know he is honest with me. No matter what, I can depend on him for that. Even when it smacks me in face. Although in the past three years I've lost a lover and another whom I considered a very good friend, I've also gained a few friends that I can rely on for their honesty and trust. They have demonstrated that, at their own offering. And it is these friends, few that they are, that I cherish the most.

When I see the day-to-day blatant disregard of simple personal respect and honesty, I ask myself repeatedly if we've changed that much as a society, that our respect for each other and our values have dwindled, nearly lost. Or if I'm just old fashioned.

If I am a dinosaur in that respect, I hope that some day, somewhere, those traits will not be viewed as fossils, but be rejuvenated. Because these are the very traits that comprise compassion. And what aided us to evolve as a civilization. And retain our faith in each other.

<walking away and throwing the crumbled "Kick me here!" sign in the trash can....>

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posted by Macrobe
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