Rectitude & Security

The Word of the Day prompt this morning is RECTITUDE

This is one of those words I’ve known and seen often over the years. A fine word, but far enough out of my normal realm of speech that I wanted to look it up before I start writing.

Nelson-Gage Canadian Dictionary says:
1) Upright conduct or character; honesty; righteousness
2) Correctness, especially of judgement, procedure, etc.

Rectitude may sound like a rigid, stuffy word but, in reality, our society functions on the principles of rectitude. The economy ceases to function, lives are put in danger, and relationships break down when people stop being honest, careful, or correct.

People may make fun of folks who are “a stickler for rules.”
They may say, “It’s not such a big deal to cut corners. Everyone does it.”
They may think, “Being that hung up on honesty is so old-fashioned!”
Or, “If it feels good, do it.”

But this nonchalance is a bit hypocritical. Where it REALLY counts, we all demand integrity.

For example, would you mind very much if your bank teller takes a rough guess when adding up your balance? If you comment on the discrepancy — after your cheque bounces — and she says, “So what if I was out a few dollars,” will you say, “No, that’s fine.”

What if you‘re on the operating table being prepped for the bi-pass that will save your life and your surgeon leans over you and says, “I’m going to take a stab at it, but I have to admit I had other issues going on so I skipped out on the classes where we learned how to do heart surgery?”

My mind goes back to a young girl I worked with for a time. She was cheerful, a good worker, and ready to agree to whatever you asked — but commitment meant nothing to her. I observed this on several occasions. For one thing, she promised to join me and help out at a charity function. Totally agreeable to do it, but when the day came she never showed.

Even the commitment to be at work wasn’t always a priority. One day our boss at the Doughnut Shop had to call someone else in to work because this girl hadn’t showed up. Her excuse later was, “I’d promised to drive my aunt to Yorkton this morning.” (A small city three hours away.)

Having developed this attitude/lifestyle, I wondered how seriously she’d take car payments, a marriage commitment, family obligations?

Over the years I’ve seen that even people who are quite indifferent about honesty and integrity still expect this discipline in others. One acquaintance who thinks nothing of bending the truth or telling an outright lie if it’s convenient, gets furious if she finds out someone has lied to her.

People who cut corners themselves still go to a doctor and expect a thorough exam and an accurate diagnosis, not some nonchalant guess as to what may be the problem. They expect their optometrist will give them the right prescription for glasses and their dentist will fill the right tooth. They count on the pilot of their plane to follow all the safety guidelines and not just head out without proper clearance, hoping for the best.

As easy-going as she was in her commitments, my co-worker would have been furious if she’d had to stand at a bus stop for an hour in the rain because the bus driver decided to stop in and visit his mother on the way to work. Or if she’d been flying to Toronto and ended up in Edmonton because the pilot felt like going there instead.

Most of us go to work and we do our job to the best of our ability because other people depend on us, not just our bosses but the consumers of what we produce.Try telling a reader that a few dozen spelling errors and typos should be okay in a book—and see what he says.

In countries where people aren’t very conscientious and cut corners to save themselves a buck or two, some stress comes up and the lack of integrity costs lives. In Haiti, for example, builders who used poor quality rebar and cement, saw their buildings pancake when the earthquake hit. People were trapped and crushed to death because of poor quality materials.

Even if we don’t like them, most of us understand the importance of specs. We don’t steal because we’ve grasped a basic principle: “What goes around comes around” and we don’t want to be stolen from. We’re honest with others because we want them to be honest with us, and trust us. If we find out someone isn’t honest or trustworthy, we soon limit our contact with them.

There is a certain sowing and reaping going on in this world. I’ve lived long enough to see people receive a fitting reward for their actions.

In one place Jesus touched on the matter with these words:

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Galatians 6:7

Rectitude. Personal integrity. Honesty. Commitment. Carefulness. Old-fashioned virtues that make our society a safe and secure place to live. And they will for hundreds of years to come — if we can pass them on to the next generation.

9 thoughts on “Rectitude & Security

    • Thanks for your comment, Judy. I’m having an awful time replying though. I started — and the power went off. Now I sat down and wrote a nice long reply —and for some reason it won’t post. 😦

      I’ll try again. I do agree with you that some of our “rules” — that don’t pertain to right and wrong — could be eased up on. If I make some code of conduct for myself and expect others to live up to it, I’ll likely just get tied up in knots.

      There are various angles to this issue, but I was thinking specifically of when we make loopholes for ourselves that we won’t let anyone else slide through. Like, “It’s okay for me to steal from you because I need money — but it’s NOT okay for you to steal from ME because you have enough money.” (According to my thinking.) Or , “If I don’t take it, someone else will, so what’s the difference? I might as well benefit as the next guy.” But, “Nobody better touch MY stuff!” Etc.

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      • Absolutely agree. The poem was meant to be lighthearted. I had a “sometimes” in the first line and later took it out because if you didn’t say the line just right, the meter wasn’t right, but philosophically, I believe as you do..and when it comes to travel, I always prefer the discovery approach, although when on a tour, as we were, it is very important to follow the time schedules and not hold up other people…

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      • Big mixup. Notifications doesn’t let you see what the comment is in reference to and I thought you were talking about my poem about rectitude, “Random Travel” rather that your own. I can see how this would be a puzzling comment..J

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      • For that reason I often go to my dashboard and reply to comments there. You can see what you’re answering. I find this new Comments setup confusing. 😦
        Anyway, things like this happen. Just like the power going out when you’ve nicely finished answering someone. 😉

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    • Thanks for your comment. 🙂
      It’s not only right morally, what your own conscience can live with, but as I said, it’s the only way our society can continue to function.
      For a year or so I managed a thrift shop for a certain charity, and it amazed me that people would steal from charity. Even a 50-cent thing! But finally a person gets a reputation. One “customer” got to be known all over the area for stealing, from us, from stores, from her former employers. It does catch up with a person and they’re ostracized.

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