Thoughts lead on to purposes; purposes go forth in action; actions form habits; habits decide character; and character fixes our destiny. -Tryon Edwards
A few months ago, I was with a group of friends having coffee and some of the women started talking about shopping and looking for sales. One of the men in the group mentioned that he had a friend who was selling all different kinds of stuff at 1/4 of the retail price. If they were interested, he would be willing to go pick some up and bring it over for them to look at. Now, I guess I don’t have to tell you that the women got very excited and practically pushed the guy out the door to get the stuff.
He came back with everything you could imagine; baby clothes, cleaning products, food, and accessories for the house… It was like being at a flea market! I couldn’t believe my eyes. Where did all this stuff come from? No one seemed to care. They just couldn’t believe they were getting such an amazing deal.
I am not much of a shopper so I stayed back and watched the others; (for those who know me you know how I love to observe people’s behavior). As everyone was sifting through all the stuff, one man stood out above the rest! When he was asked to join the others and told that he was missing out on an amazing deal, he asked, “Where did all this stuff come from”? Everyone starred at him, rolled their eyes and laughed. They told him not to be so naive. That he should just take advantage of this, it did not matter where it came from.
His exact words were, “I will not choose to be a part of an act that goes against my values. Even though I do not know where it came from, if I buy any of it, I am encouraging the act that brought all this stuff here.” The others just laughed at him, telling him he was too serious. One person actually tried to convince him to see it from a different perspective. He used an example of how we are constantly being robbed by all the taxes and high interest rates the credit card companies charge us, this is just a way that someone found to make up for it. No one is getting hurt.
He spoke one final time. “No one is stealing from me when I pay taxes and I willingly applied for a credit card knowing what the interest rates would be. I had my apartment broken into twice; my stuff was resold the exact same way it is happening now. I went through the shock of coming home to see that my house was broken into. For days I lived in fear that it would happen again. Do you realize how stressful a situation like that is? The person who did it, must of thought to himself “he will get reimbursed by the insurance company and get all brand new stuff, I am not hurting anyone.” We all have a choice in life, a choice in the actions we take. We do not however have a choice in the consequences our actions cause. We are responsible for those consequences.”
Just then the most amazing thing happened. One woman put everything she had in her hands down. She turned to everyone and told them how disgusted she was over her behaviour. She agreed that in buying this stuff, she was encouraging an act that also went against her values.
This man showed integrity, he was able to stand up to everyone even though they laughed at him. He even inspired one person to have a change of heart! He was not taken in by others’ weaknesses. Although he was laughed at and considered a fool, he was not intimidated by their actions and words. His strength and confidence was powerful. Imagine if everyone was able to inspire just 1 person the way this man did…
People will tend to have the need to justify their actions and behaviours when confronted that they have committed an immoral act.They believe themselves to be good people, so, to protect their self image, they will defend themselves in trying to make a wrong a right.This behaviour confirms their weaknesses. Only a strong person is able to take the time to realize that their actions will have an impact on others. Furthermore, the consequences of their actions and beliefs hold them back in achieving growth. We are all constantly faced with temptation. That day I became aware of how often it happens in different ways. People are tempted to put blame on others to hide their mistakes. They are tempted to seek revenge. They are tempted to point out others’ fault in an effort to hide their own weaknesses. Whether their temptations are to achieve power or pleasure, they will find a way to justify their actions. Through it all, they plant a seed within themselves. What will that seed grow into?
Think about your actions, no matter how much you feel they are justified, ask yourself, if someone would do to me what I am about to do would I still consider it to be justified? Resisting temptation can only be conquered by the strong and courageous…giving in to temptation does not give you power, it is the easy way out for the weak to remain in their comfort zone!
I want to go back to the woman who chose to put everything down. When she heard the man’s words, she took a step back and analyzed her actions and thought about the consequences they would have. She immediately understood that what she was doing went against what she believed in and decided to not give into temptation. In that moment, she not only grew as a person, she gained inner peace and strength from having made this choice. A message that she will pass on to others including her children!
I have attached an episode of the Twilight Zone that portrays this situation; it is the full 20 minute show. Take the time to watch it. What do you think the message is at the end of the episode?