Thursday, October 01, 2009

Noblesse Oblige, Anyone?

I've been thinking a lot lately of truth, justice and the American way, along with how frustrated I've been at the anger and fears fanned from the swindles (identity theft, Enron, Madoff, golden parachutes, etc.) exaggerations, out-of-context half-truths, and sometimes the outright lies that are being passed as pure truth. And unfortunately, more people than I'd like are falling for it. And I'm not blaming this behavior on any particular group either, because there have been and are people on all sides that have participated in these departures from our ideals--ironically sometimes in the name of those very ideals.

Maybe this is a sentimental longing for "the good ol' days," but I was raised with this subconscious belief that honesty and fair-dealing were embedded in our culture. Sure you might run into someone trying to con you every once in a while, but the vast majority of us believe in those values. Then I thought maybe that's just me being the one who always tries to spot that flash of silver in the black clouds.

But when I started rereading Double Star from my Heinlein collection tonight, I was reminded I was not alone in thinking that there were indeed those good ol' days--that we Americans had adapted the concept of noblesse oblige to everyone instead of just those of higher class or standing. He published this story in 1956, and below is one of his main character's thoughts:
"Noblesse oblige.

I decided that notion could be generalized into any occupation. 'Value for value.' Building 'on the square and on the level.' The Hippocratic oath. Don't let the team down. Honest work for honest pay. Such things did not have to be proved; they were an essential part of life--true throughout eternity, true in the farthest reaches of the Galaxy."
Over fifty years ago Heinlein imagined that freedom, honor, kindness and generosity would be values held by humans far, far into the future. Well it's the future, and while I still believe we have the potential to achieve those ideals, I think our moral compass has gotten off kilter these last few decades.

So everybody, take a few long, slow breaths and just let your mind savor those ideals. Let them trickle through your thoughts and into all the swirls of your imagination.

Do you see that bright and shining place? It may never be perfect, but I'd so very much like to live there: where respect was earned by our ethical actions--not what we look like, how much money we have, where or how we live, or who we know.

Each and every one of us can choose every day whether to make that place a reality, and as far as I'm concerned, "The more, the merrier!"

No comments:

Post a Comment

Greetings! Thanks for joining in the conversation on my blog. Please know that I am all about listening and not judging. Please follow the Golden Rule when posting. Be kind to others and if you disagree with me or another commenter, please do so politely. Thanks and have a lovely day!