The things I can’t walk past

I don’t know if it’s normal, but the older I get the more purist I become. When I say purist I mean I’m less inclined to tolerate lies, incompetence and poor attitude – in others, but also myself. I’ve always had high standards. In many aspects, I might have been called a man of principle. It was expectation then though, not necessity. I’d be disappointed when those standards were not met, whereas often these days I become angry. It’s harder to let go now. Why?

I think there are two reasons. The first is not easy to parse. I think having experienced so much hardship in recent years, and having survived it, I am left with a more primal concept of behaviour. Having experienced these things through that period, and being at fault myself on occasion, I have come to understand that such standards are more than just words. Promises made, commitments given, even things left from one day to the next can have huge consequences. There is no excuse for it when it can be so vital to wellbeing.

The other reason is probably shared by many. I’m thoroughly jaded by the politics of our times. I’m sick of boasting politicians, politicians bought by big business or opinion poll, politicians who say one thing today and the opposite tomorrow. I’m sick to the stomach with the utter lack of integrity, kneejerk cynicism and serial dishonesty. I yearn for a leader who will be strong enough to speak the truth without thinking about their reputation or the opinion polls. I want someone to believe in, someone who embodies those principles – but there is none. Well, I’ll have none of that. The more dishonest they become the more honesty I demand. I won’t be a party to the cynical mores of our times. I must be better than that, and in this way I have made a sub-conscious stand.

It’s hard work. Dispiriting often. I’m like the boy and the dyke, except I’ve long run out of fingers. I could give it away, except I can’t really. It’s not in me anymore. Pure has become a state of mind.

In the last few days there have been a couple of things that define that state of mind.

I get occasional food deliveries to my door. I was due one over the weekend, but it never showed up though delivery was claimed. I rang up about it, received an apology and a credit to my account. Later I managed to track the box down to a neighbour and reclaimed it. I could have left it at that, enjoyed the box and kept the credit. It would have been easy, and as my finances remain in a state of disrepair, a handy bonus. I couldn’t though. I knew that right from the first moment. That would be wrong. It would be dishonest. I couldn’t walk around like that, and so I told them, I got the box, thanks anyway. I’ve done myself out of $70, but it’s the right thing.

Then at work, I’ve been working on a small project and right at the death knell an unscrupulous outside party threw a cat amongst the pigeons. What had been agreed to was cancelled. I had been dealing with one person; this other person came in over the top to kybosh it. Furthermore, she then made same disingenuous and factually incorrect claims to justify it. Her agenda was clear – if she could stop what we proposed then her company would benefit by stepping into the breach she created. Her claims got airtime and caused a stir and made us diplomatically retreat into our shell. The project was put off pending further discussions, from which I’ve been sidelined. What’s happening now is that this other person is making claims directly contradicting what her colleague had committed to previously. Some of the claims are ridiculous, but go unchallenged. The outcome, I’m sure, is that they’ll get their way.

Now I’m seething at this. There is no stage of my life when I would have meekly accepted it, but the reason is different now. Previously my ultra-competitive instinct would have been roused. I’d have taken it as a direct challenge and felt compelled to defy it. I hate to lose, and that would have dominated.

The prevailing emotion right now is outrage. I can’t stomach how unscrupulous this is, and the thought that they’ll likely get away with it gives me hives. This is blatant dishonesty and I can’t comprehend how someone can be like that – and it’s unacceptable to me. I’ve been played, and the company has been wedged. Because of ignorance, naivety and a good dose of misplaced diplomacy this situation will be played out until they get what they want.

I get told sometimes that I shouldn’t care so much. Well, I do, and I cherish that. More people should care. I’m very strongly of the belief that the standard you walk past is the standard you accept. This is no small thing, and it applies personally as it does at the corporate level. If we want to be better we need to demand better, and not accept anything less than that. Excellence does not happen by accident. For me, I can’t walk past. I won’t accept what I don’t believe in.

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