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.
Back in the 1960s a man named Jimmy Hamilton was going about his small region of Scotland doing good. He was travelling miles every week to make his rounds of nine hospitals, spreading sunshine. He’d go through the wards, taking a few minutes to stop and chat at the bedsides of those who seemed to need a visit. And folks blessed him for it.
He began this interesting “hobby” after he, as a young man, had to spend some time in a local hospital himself. While there he realized what a lonely place a hospital can be, especially for those with no close kin to pop in and see them, and he resolved to do something to what he could to cheer up a few of these folks. After he was discharged he began coming back as a visitor.
Thus his little mission started in a small way, but soon grew as he visited various hospitals in Motherwell, his own home. Jimmy was a ray of hope: he’d sit by a patient’s bed; show a kind interest in the folks; share little stories to make them smile again. His visits were so effective that surgeons would send for him to visit a depressed patient.
When he first began he made use of the local buses. However, as years went on he expanded his efforts to other hospitals farther and farther away. The many grateful recipients and their families clubbed together to help him with this; they bought him a special car so he could go even farther.
Perhaps Jimmy had a special inroad with folks who feel there’s no hope, for he himself was seriously handicapped. As a boy of three he lost both his legs in a railway accident. When he talked to other patients folks about courage and healing, they knew he’d been there, done that himself. When in despair they felt their useful days were past, Jimmy’s example of finding a small corner and filling it cheerfully was a quiet rebuttal.
Someone may say, “It seems my life has no purpose.” Rest assured, there’s a little task for each of us, something useful we can do for others that will boomerang and cheer us up, too.
Where there’s a will there’s a way. Jimmy has proved it.
Story taken from an account in THE FRIENDSHIP BOOK of Francis Gay, 1969 Edition
Another haiku just for fun.
shiny black Lincoln
bird splat on the window
the brotherhood of man
Happy Birthday to our son-in-law. As they say, “The big 40!” Picnic supper planned for family and friends this evening at our school.
This morning I came back down to earth from the whirlwind I’ve been caught up in for the past two days. I’ve been turning over ideas for the title, cover, content of my next book, but now have recalled all the other projects that need to be finished first. 🙂 I’m still enthused about compiling a second book of flash fiction stories, but will work at it little by little over time rather than trying to do it all in a rush.
One thing I remembered is that I want to start posting on Tree Top Haiku again, and so have scheduled a week’s worth of posts, to start next Monday.
We were sitting at the dinner table enjoying some moments of peace and quiet after our meal when what to our wondering ears did appear but the unique tweeting of tree swallows. I can scarcely believe the first ones have returned already. Only a few, though. I have yet to see the main migration, but my impression has been that fewer are coming back nowadays. Last year we didn’t have nearly as many as in the first years when I started putting up nest boxes for them, but this may be part of a cycle. I hope so; I really enjoy their friendly chipping.
And now, here’s one quick non-fiction story from years ago that I plan to put in my next book.
The difference between a man’s perspective and a woman’s can give us a real chuckle at times.
When we sold our home in Ontario, our realtor, Paul C, told us about another house he’d been asked to sell. He says he walked up to the living room window and looked in — there being no glass to interfere with his view.
The house had running water of a sort. There was a large hole cut in the kitchen floor; as he looked down he could see an open well about twelve feet below. The owner had hooked up an old washing machine motor and pipe beside the hole so they could pump water into the kitchen sink.
Paul mentioned a few other “unique” features that I forget now. He was delighted when someone actually came forward with an “as is” offer on the place. The day he took the paperwork over for the owner to sign, the sad fellow sat there for awhile after accepting the offer, then threw his arms out in despair and wailed, “I can’t figure it. All this luxury and she left me!”
Paul was all sympathy. “Yep. There’s no understanding women.”
I asked him, “And did a bee fly in the window opening right then and sting you?”
He laughed. “Well, maybe it should have.”
At that moment we understood each other perfectly.
Leaving the hotel
she packs the stationery
for letters she’ll never write,
the coffee packets
she might brew at home
and the mini shampoo
she’ll give to her niece
who collects little bottles.