all I have in this world is my balls and my word (march 2010)


..and I don’t break ’em for no one.

My gramps always says, “A man’s only as good as his word.” He means that every deal – business or personal – could and should be done on a handshake, and that a promise should be as good as gold. He and others in the “Golden Generation” were raised in a time and ethical environment in which lawyers were largely unnecessary, dishonesty was shunned, and full and complete honesty was an expected and natural behavior. Not that there weren’t always dishonest people, certainly there were. Nonetheless, those times are seemingly slipping further and further away.

It’s hard to even imagine such a world now. I’m still often stunned and thoroughly disappointed at the level of dishonesty that pervades the culture I was born in and the other cultures I choose to assimilate myself in. Call me naive but I still long for that day when a man’s word could be trusted sans being held at gunpoint or minus a thirty-page legal document and a down payment to back it up.

I recall the past Presidentiable debates. A question was asked about the use of negative campaign ads and whether or not the “American people” has grown tired of ’em.

The real answer is, NO. No one is tired of negativity, else no one would ever watch “reality TV”, much less the evening news. What we’re truly tired of is the lack of honesty. The spin, the deception, the twist of the word, the misuse of the quote, the bold-faced deceptions. Indeed, a few politicians paid a heavy price for the most outlandish lies, but most got away with it -in spades. Not enough did, though, and the behavior persists. Hence, dishonesty pervades our society. Heck, we don’t even call it dishonestly anymore. We fool ourselves when we shroud the reality of it in seemingly innocent jargon such as a playful “spin” or that harmless “little white lie”, et cetera et cetera.

Ironically, this parody is best played out in the health care industry where TRUST is terribly vital. What with all the legal mumbo-jumbos that are deemed “essential” in order to put one’s life and well-being into the hands of others, there’s barely enough trees to make all the required paperwork. But life and death crisis leave people with no other choice but to trust. And trust requires an expectation of honesty. Without it, our health care system will be dominated by expensive legalism rather than a united front joined together to serve the public good -it’d be in deep six sooner than the next terminal patient. Without integrity, systems will quickly break down and much of our economic and social well-being will crumble.


Honesty begins with each one of us. It begins at home, at work, with friends and colleagues, allies and even enemies, but more importantly, with ourselves. It’s not easy but it’s not rocket science either. Anyone can have integrity. One needn’t be a physician treating a patient to practice it. We just gotta strive to have nothing less in our actions and words.

So, next time you think about “spinning” a story, think twice. If we all seek integrity, each of us will be putting in our two cents into making the world a bit better and an easier place to work and live in. Everyone’s happy. Hooray.

Honesty IS a lonely word. But it’s the only one we got. We really should start getting over ourselves and do our best to keep it.


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