So I’m watching the first season of The West Wing and the White House staff are interviewing a young African-American teenager for the position of Personal Aid to the President. Josh Lyman, the Deputy Chief of Staff, is concerned that it will look poor for a ‘young black kid’ to ‘wait’ on the President. Leo McGary, the Chief of Staff says that he has held doors open for the President and considers it an honour, Josh retorts that it’s not the same holding The Presidents overnight bag. They, despite the cosmetic implications realise that it’s not casting (the irony considering it is a television show) and they simply get the right person for the job.
Leo then asks Admiral Percy Fitzwallace (also African-American) if he has a problem with a young black man waiting on The President. He says “are you going to pay him a decent wage?”, “are you going to treat him with respect in the workplace?” Leo replies yes to both and Fitzwallace responds with; “Why the hell should I care? I have some real honest to God battles to fight and I don’t have time for the cosmetic ones.
I don’t normally post without my own conclusion on something but I think the point is demonstrated beautifully and hopefully is self evident.
There are many things available for free that everybody has in some form or another. The time for example; a Rich Person would have a highly expensive watch or an aboriginal could tell you by looking at the Sun. In either case I’m sure they would tell you without cost.
There are more important properties than that though, and most of them are intangible. Among my favourites are Freedom and Honour. Freedom, in all its forms, can be taken away, its happened extensively throughout history and I’m not qualified to quantify it. The other, honour, I am quite happy to talk about.
A person’s behaviour, attitude, and honesty all play big parts in someone’s honour. Someone who acts wrongly but has the best of intentions has honour, someone who is caught lying about it does not. There are many aspects to honour, a trait that is less a less represented by the person but by little bits of paper marked with “CV“, resumé and ‘balance’.
All too often society, even individuals shun someone who on one occasion acted rudely, even inappropriately but for the other 364 days in the year has been a upstanding individual. People have started to forget a person’s honour and how important it is. So next time someone ticks you off think how long you’ve known them and whether their reason for being that way was well intended but was received poorly.