The constantly churning wheels of my mind shifted into overdrive last week when I came up on the tail end of a conversation between two would be friends. As the larger of the two guys walked away, I heard the other mumble under his breath, “I wouldn’t trust that clown as far as I can throw him.” Considering the physical appearance of the two, I couldn’t imagine Pee Wee Herman even being able to lift Andre the Giant, let alone toss him any distance.
That, invariably, started the thought process about the number of people who refer to me as “friend” and vice versa; questioning the whole issue of trust. Of course, most everyone would assert that he or she is trustworthy but the real query lies in the truthful responses of those who’d be the ones required to operate in that trust.
The product of a rather stern father, who had a peculiar white leather belt he never actually wore and a mild mannered mother who could instill the fear of God in you with one glaring look, I’d like to think my siblings and I were all provided a reasonably good foundation when it comes to the matter of morals. Whether it was by way of education or not so subtle “demonstration” with our father employing the help of that infamous white belt, we seem to have all turned out okay for the most part.
One of the hillbilly philosophies I employ speaks to the fact that a man is only as good as his word no matter how well-intended he comes across. Roughly two weeks ago, I and a few neighbors sat down with one of the county commissioners to review a proposed project that will eventually result in the paving of a rural road granting access to the house. Consent from all who own property along the road’s proposed right-of-way was required before the plan could proceed. After meeting with the county commissioner, we actually took a walk along the road to determine approximately how much footage of the land would have to be sacrificed for completion of the task. In short, I eventually signed the consent form that had been presented signifying my agreement to allow the county footage of the property as specified.
After sleeping on the idea, it occurred to me that I’d neglected to consider the fact that there are a significant number of cultivated pine trees that will be lost in the process of paving the road. A call was placed to the respective commissioner last week and this concern expressed which prompted him to immediately suggest that it was up to me as to whether I wanted to rescind my consent. At that point, I explained the fact that I’d given my word and we shook hands concerning the matter which, to me, is symbolic of a “country contract.” So, my response to the county official was, “No, I can’t change my mind at this point. Win, lose, or draw the deal is done.”
It is altogether shameful that, in this day and age, by the time many people get to the point of signing a contract they’ve already considered multiple ways to get out of it or how the other party can be shorted. There are attorneys who receive stupendous amounts of money to do nothing other than “legal” their clients out of binding agreements. I’ve heard it stated that every contract is made to be broken and these attorneys exist solely to prove the truth of that theory.
At best, it’s difficult to know when a person can be trusted even if the individual is someone with whom you’ve been associated for many years. It is unfortunate that the concept of having money or power does tend to change the moral make up of those who are somewhat less than noble. Often, the review of circumstances surrounding a situation that ends with an undesirable outcome will reveal signs or clues that were present from the beginning. Perhaps, it’s that we simply choose to ignore or disregard the red flags and disobey that subliminal voice cautioning against involvement with that particular individual; be it personal or professional. Famed author, poet, and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou wrote: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
Too often, we want to dismiss or justify the inappropriate actions of people for the sake of preserving a relationship. Whether the association persists for ten months or ten years, if the intent is misguided from the start, nothing good will ever be realized as a lie is simply defined as omission of the truth. Whether stated or demonstrated, all lies have consequences. I could be wrong but it’s just something to consider.