I was recently asked to do something that challenged my ethics. It wasn’t the first time the subject came up, and it did not line up with my sense of right or wrong. Let me be clear, this isn’t about claiming to be holier or better than the next person. I am not. I’m human and a wholeheartedly thankful person that I have the Grace to face each day. That being said, I firmly believe self preservation at the expense of self compromise is not really preservation at all. It’s a step closer to the wider path, the easier path and a slippery slope. However in an “every man for himself” society, it appears that moral coding seems more like braille, and only those who truly know how to feel it as well as see it, choose the options which allow them to be true to themselves.
The question itself made me wonder about the inner fiber of the person who asked it, until I thought about several things. I should busy myself taking the plank out of my own eye before judging anyone else for the toothpick in his or hers. Furthermore, what if it was a test to see how far I have progressed and matured in a spiritual and universal way as my current situation continues to pressure and stress me? Will I remain constant and true to who I know myself to be?
Circumstances can linger, often creating the need to put an end to them if they aren’t good or to our liking. Sometimes they can even be painful. The desire to change them can become so strong it may override things like common sense or character. We can start out with high standards, and as time wears us down we may be willing to compromise. A person who is looking for love may lower their expectations in order to not be alone. An executive may be given opportunities to get ahead of others at the expense of his or her colleagues career. A stressful home or work environment may cause an otherwise happy person to succumb to behaviors and actions that align with the negative and toxic elements, instead of rising above them. In the end, compromise hurts us as well as the other people involved. Our inner guidelines and plan should remain steadfast, no matter what. They are blueprints for our ultimate success.
Yesterday I saw a great example of what it means to not compromise who you are inside. I have an older dog at home and sometimes he doesn’t get the attention he deserves. Yet he remains not only steadfast, but joyful each time I make even a meager attempt to love him up, walk or feed him. These are his basic needs, things he is entitled to as a living creature under my care. I’ve shown up halfheartedly, yet there he is as constant as always.
I had forgotten to set my alarm and woke up late. This meant that he was rushed through his morning routine so that I could make the time up and arrive at work as expected. When I came back into my room to put his collar on, he was already standing next to it with his favorite toy in his mouth. I had to laugh at his smarts and cuteness, and when I did he just started to wiggle. A full body, whole hearted, “I am so happy to be here in this moment” kind of wiggle.
He didn’t hold back love towards me because I couldn’t bring my “A” game. He showed no irritation, disappointment or judgement. He stayed true to who he is. He never changes his core operating system and as a result remains happy despite what may or may not be happening around him. There is something to be said about that. It makes me question who the “higher” life form really is.
One could argue that a canine just isn’t smart enough to know or feel the differences around him like humans do. I would argue back, that humans need to qualify what constitutes truly “smart” behavior.
When faced with a choice to remain steadfast or compromise, just smile graciously, and know that your bar should only move upward, not downward. Do your best to be thankful for where it is you are at, hard as that may be, knowing that changing your standards is not the same as being flexible or negotiating. It’s makes waiting for the best situations easier.
Stand firm, and while you’re at it, don’t forget to wiggle.