Jay Rifenbary

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Good Intentions Do Not Supercede Unethical Practices

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Throughout the course of my life I have witnessed and experienced actions by others where there own righteous belief in their ethical intent is used to justify unethical behaviors to reach the ultimate outcome of that intent. Simply, they believe the ends justify the means regardless of the consequences in getting there, or the people and families they destroy in the process. No matter how good your intentions may be being dishonest or deceitful invalidates them. Who do you trust, and how do you know whom to trust? I wish there was an exact science to answer that question, for there would be much less hurt in the world. I do not believe being honorable is traced to a human genome. It is born out of a cultural understanding that being honorable preserves human dignity, decency, mutual respect and is the foundation for any healthy relationship both personally and professionally.

Sad to share with you, but I am more leery then ever in my life when it comes to putting my trust in those I encounter and deal with. My initial trust stems from an actual belief that the person I am dealing with is honorable, and has a genuine interest in my wellbeing and me as a person. How naive is that? The naivety is revealed every time you have been scammed, lied to, cheated on and deceived. You will experience, if you have not already, that those who tend to be the most trusting are those who are victimized the most by those who are the least trustworthy. As author, social theorist, and economist Thomas Sowell said, “One of the common failings among honorable people is a failure to appreciate how thoroughly dishonorable some other people can be, and how dangerous it is to trust them.”

It might be simple to understand, but why then do so many of us continue to be burned, deceived and taken advantage of? Maybe, because there are still some of us who actually believe in the genuine goodness and welfare of others, and do the right thing when it comes to our interactions with those around us. As much of our society becomes more self-absorbed, the challenge to believe there are those who actually believe in the value of selflessness and the importance of honor is a greater challenge. We all know those who are not trustworthy, and yet sometimes we believe we can earn their trust. That is a huge mistake. For example, there are those who are just waiting for you to say something to them that can be used against you. Maybe used in a bit of gossip or a put down of you in order to artificially elevate their own sense of self-importance. Fact! Those who do not genuinely respect themselves are never genuinely respectful of others. Why? Because they would have to be honest with themselves, and sincerely understand what they stand for and believe in. This cannot happen unless there is a foundation of ethical core values that guide their behavior.

Without behaving in a way that reflects ethical values there is little chance to develop any self-respect. Without ethical values, recognizing the need for personal honesty will only occur when the personal suffering from their own unethical behavior surpasses the consequences of their unethical behaviors toward others. However, that is not always the final straw as there are those who will never accept the importance of being personally honest, even if it is at the expense of friends and family. No matter what you do you can never earn the trust of an individual, nor viably trust anyone, who is knee deep in their own sense of importance, self-centeredness, and self-driven agendas.

I do believe there are wonderful, and good intentioned people, who are honorable in their dealings with others. However, in today's world it might take a bit more due diligence by those who care about such a thing to actually find them. Personally, I believe that conducting oneself with honor is the mark of a person with a high quality of character, self-respect, courage, humility and personal accountability. There are no excuses for those who believe in living am honorable life.



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