Integrity Matters
June 26, 2003

Take time to offer an act of kindness

Newspaper Image Question: (E-054)

Dear Jim:

Week after week, your column generally responds to questions addressing problems created by individuals who violate standards of integrity and ethics. Just for a change of pace, would you please cite examples of people who exhibit integrity?


Yes, gladly. Let's start with an optimistic assumption that a significant number of human beings are pretty good. We are confident that people will "come through in the clutch" with honesty and caring. Every day, decent people are conducting themselves with sincerity and integrity and they are not making their actions appear to be any big deal.

Certainly, integrity-centered behavior is not anything earth-shattering or new. Perhaps that was the message of the poet, William Wordsworth, who at the age of 28, in 1798, provided these powerful and reassuring words: "That best portion of a good [person's] life, [the] little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love."

Nameless acts of kindness might include:

1. Motioning for an impatient driver to move ahead or to turn in front.

2. Rather than just providing directions, escorting visitors or strangers to their destinations.

3. Bending down or sitting down to appear face-to-face with a child when communicating, so as to make the relationship and connection less overwhelming.

4. Waiting graciously for the person who answers the telephone to complete introductory comments before interrupting with questions or requests.

5. Listening attentively to the same story, retold the "umpteenth time" by a forgetful friend, appreciating how important the telling of the story is to the speaker.

6. Commending the effective communication, as well as the efforts, of those around us whose second language is English, but upon whose work we depend.

7. Exercising tolerance, spoken and unspoken, for other points of view; recognizing that two people can see the same situation and draw different conclusions.

8. Praising the hard work and sincere effort of those whose services harvest our food, prepare our meals, keep our automobiles running, deliver our mail, teach us, guide us spiritually, operate transportation systems, provide pure water and protect our society.

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