These last few weeks have been trying. I like to consider myself an optimist but these days, the glass appears emptier and emptier. I think that I play fair. I try to always empathize with others. I have tried to approach all of my relationships, professional and personal, with integrity. Both my husband and I have, what I consider to be, a strong moral compass and we try very diligently to instill this in our children. We are not perfect. We make mistakes and we haven’t always made everyone happy, but we always try to be firmly grounded on the side of the good.
But these past few weeks, I have been wondering if it may have been wiser to take some shortcuts at times. In my work, I would never sacrifice patient care to take the easier road but in some of my relationships, it is beginning to seem that the value I have placed on truth, honesty and integrity has not always been reciprocated. Pride and money are powerful incentives for a lot of people. Friends become foes and family becomes enemies when dollars and egos get involved.
The cynicism was beginning to settle in. Last night, my boys rented a movie for $6. I said to my husband that we really should start streaming movies for free like everyone else. My husband, true to his character, replied “If everyone else is doing it, does it make it okay?” This made me think. He was right of course. It doesn’t make it okay. It was the same point I have been trying to make with my children for years. I told him how I was feeling disillusioned with always trying to do the right thing. That it was exhausting and people didn’t always appreciate your actions or give you credit anyway. Sometimes, they even took advantage of you and left you feeling exploited. He, in response, told me to think of myself as the tortoise. The hare may make it to the finish line but in the end, the tortoise wins. Slowly, but surely, the tortoise keeps following the path he believes in until finally, he wins at the end while holding his head up high and never giving up to search for the easier way.
So I am reminding myself that the race is long. The good guys can’t possibly finish last. I refuse to believe that. There may be hurdles and it may seem like it would have been easier at times to stoop to the levels of those around you, but at the end of it all, as Mary Schmich says, “the race is long, and in the end it is only with yourself”. I want to stand tall at the finish line. Just like the tortoise.