Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Talk Thursday (on Saturday): Integrity

Well, it's that time of year again.  The month of July, also known as Hell Month, but more fondly known among my gang o'swimmers as Swim for Distance Month.  This is the month when those of us in the Dallas Aquatic Masters program try to swim as far as possible.  We set a goal--some of the really fast swimmers will go like 65 miles--and try to make it within the 31-day parameter.  If you make it, you get a T-shirt.  Actually, even if you don't make it, you get a T-shirt, but, you know, it's a much more meaningful T-shirt if you make it.

Now, I'm not that fast a swimmer.  I'm sort of the cargo plane among the F-14s here, so my goal is 24 miles.  I've figured out that I'm not going to get to the pool on Fridays owing to softball, and there's at least three other days in the month where something will go wrong, so that leaves 24 swim days in which I can log a mile each.  On Wednesday, when we had a patriotic Fourth of July practice at 5:15 in the blessed morning 'til 7, I logged an unbelievable 2500 meters, which is an all-time distance personal best and just about 1 2/3 miles.  (And, as usual when I'm trying to log some ridiculous distance, I was done in by chills.  I could have gone farther, but I was just so darn cold.) There's a 2000-meter swim in my future and probably at least one more marathon opportunity (I'd really, really like to hit two miles) so I'm reasonably sure I'll make it.  Even if I don't, it'll be pretty close.

I usually tie the whole Swim for Distance thing into a charitable race, and this year's no exception.  If you wanna pledge me by the mile (50 cents per mile = $12.50; a dollar a mile = $24.00, etc.) or place bets as to whether or not I make it ($10 says I do; if I don't, you don't have to pay me the $10 and you get to be smug and make the "L" sign on your forehead whenever I'm around) or--whatever, I will cheerfully accept and this year, all donations will go to Survivors of Torture, International. I realize this is not a warm and fuzzy charity, like Heifer or Children's Hospital, but they're good people who do extremely important work and their founder is an old friend of mine and ex-pastor of the gang of Lutherans I hung around with in San Diego.  I dunno if I qualify as a tax-exempt organization but I'm pretty sure they do.

(By the way, Buddha mightily discouraged gambling, but for a good cause, I think he'd understand.)

Which brings us to the topic du jour, and thanks, Eddie, this 'un's a good 'un.  How, exactly, does anybody know if I've gone the requisite 24 miles or not?  Well, they know because I fill in a little log sheet whenever I'm at the pool.  Yeah, you may say, but who polices the log sheet?  Well, nobody, really.  Just me.  So, you could be lying, you may say.  Yes, that's true, I say, but I suck so bad at lying that it would be really obvious.  The very ink on the page would jump up and down and say, "She's lying!"  Plus, I'd turn a fascinating shade of red when you asked me about it.  That, and I'm bad at math.  (Well, simple adding of numbers.  We get into trig, higher algebra, differential equations, no problem.)  I wouldn't know how to "cheat" to add the right number of meters at the right time to make it come out with the right number of miles.  Besides all that, though, it would never occur to me.  I'm just not hardwired that way.

Give you an example.  For fourteen or so months when I was in college (or freshly out of college; it's all a blur) I worked at Bank of America in their credit card division.  I have always had a penchant for memorizing numbers, and it really came out in this job.  My colleagues got repeated laughs out of the fact that I could rattle off the last five or six account numbers I'd dealt with.  I couldn't always connect them with a name, but expiration date? Not a problem.  If ever I had a criminal bent, it woulda come out right there.  And it didn't.  Indeed, we had a fraud ring running through my facility, and when the FBI showed up to haul everybody away, they didn't so much as glance at me.  (Tempted to chuckle evilly and rub my hands together, here, but let's get real; if I'd been able to pull off some criminal-mastermind type stunt, I'd not be worrying about how to pay the tree guy, would I?  Nope.)

During an awkward moment at work, my manager raised her eyebrows at me and said, "You never lie, so you must be telling the truth, but that's really strange."  It was.  I'd just confessed to having been to a methadone clinic on my lunch break.  Is it my fault that my doc has his office in a methadone clinic?  No, it is not.  So, I guess you could say that some have integrity, and some have integrity thrust upon them.  I have integrity thrust upon me.  I'm honest because I can't be otherwise.  Other people can choose to be honest or not, and the choices are what defines them.

When we lived in San Diego, Joan spent most of our last year looking for work elsewhere.  Looking for work while still working your current job calls for a delicate game of fancy footwork that often means you have to be less than completely honest.  Yet, I was amazed at how well she pulled this off.  When she had to fly to Texas for the interview, she told her boss that she'd found out recently that her father had died, and that she had some personal business in Texas.  Both statements were completely true.  Neither had anything to do with the other.  Some time later, her boss said something like, "I didn't know your father was in Texas."  To which Joan said, "I'm pretty sure my father is somewhere considerably hotter than Texas."  Again, true statement (well, speculative, but true in a sense) that had nothing to do with the preceding statement. Joan is a master of the art.  I watch her rapt with amazement, like I'd watch an artist paint a new canvas in bold streaks of blue and red and black and grey.

Anyway, there's this thing coming up called a "presidential election."  Every four years or so, whether we need to or not, the government in the capital city throws a bunch of tribute white guys (well, the occasional token black guy, and maybe a woman, if she's got enough testosterone to play alpha male) into a ring and lets them fight to the death, kind of like "Hunger Games" but they slay each other by wit alone.  Now, I don't think there's really any doubt which candidate I want to win (in case there is, let's just say that obama in Tibetan means, "limitless light").  But more to the point, there's a particular candidate I really, really want to lose.  You could say I'm not voting for the one guy so much as I'm voting against the other guy.  Why?  Complete lack of integrity.  Let's look at some examples:

1998:  “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I believe that since Roe V. Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we should sustain and support it.”

2002:  “I will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose.”

2007:  "I will be a pro-life president."

2011:  "I support the reversal of Roe v. Wade, because it is bad law and bad medicine."

2012:   "I would allow private laboratories and private institutions–as we currently do, and as the president does as well–to use these so-called surplus embryos to be discarded."

Surplus embryos? As in, unborn children?  Interesting.  Are you confused?  I certainly am.  And while my own position on the abortion thing is kind of convoluted, most people don't have that problem.  They fall into one of two camps, with some grey shading in between.  Especially if they're running for President.  Here's another one:

2004:  Signed an assault-weapons ban while governor.

2005:  Deemed May 7 "Right To Bear Arms Day."

2007:  "I do not own a gun."

Five minutes later: "I have a gun of my own.  I go hunting myself."

I dunno, but I'm starting to think this guy doesn't answer a single question without first checking the latest poll results and then answering accordingly.  Which must mean he doesn't have any opinions of his own.  He's just a mouthpiece for whatever's popular, or whatever his gang of friends think is popular, anyway.  Here's one more:

November 18, 2008: "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt."

May 7, 2012: "I'll take a lot of credit for the fact that this [auto] industry's come back."

Wow.  I mean, that really takes--a certain body part known to be used in the production of male reproductive cells.  But it doesn't take integrity.  I'm amazed--well, kind of appalled, actually--that after all those primary slugfests, this was the best the party could do.  I mean, some of the other candidates were blithering morons, but at least when they articulated a position, you knew they meant it--no matter how idiotic it was.

Then it occurs to me.  Maybe he's Schroedinger's Candidate.

My suggestion?  Let's not open that damn box.  As a matter of integrity.


Cele said...

ha ha Schoedinger's Candidate, I love it. I think Joan should give classes in deflective truthisms. I would take it.

Jen said...

Hee! I think Joan would probably tell you that letting somebody believe something they want to believe, however false, is not the same thing as lying. It may be enabling, but it's not lying. And that's a whole 'nother blog post...