The Guiding Light Dec. 2015 - Page 13

Mouth To Ear

Character and integrity

Brothers, Two words, sometimes confused, and occasionally the source of anxiety for all of us, are "Character" and "Integrity". Character may be considered to be the sum of all the qualities one exhibits, or in the simplest terms, it is who we are as individuals. Integrity may be considered to be an individuals steadfast adherence to a strict moral code. In simplest terms, it means one does the right thing for the right reasons under all circumstances, even when no one is watching.

This all seems easy enough. But is it? Why should these two ideas cause

anxiety? The answer to this question is found when we examine what it means

to be right or wrong. Again, there are two ways to view the world. The

school of situational ethics says "The ends justify the means." On the

other hand, to most of us, some things are simply wrong. When we violate

our personal ethical standards, finding ourselves on one side or the other

of this broad gulf, we are thrown into an ethical crisis, fearing we have

immutably crossed a line in the sand. We condemn ourselves to self doubt

and self criticism. We are faced with another tough decision. Do we punish

ourselves endlessly? Do we accept responsibility for our actions? Do we

rationalize our "error" by saying the end justifies the means? Do we take

the high road, and point out that we "did what was right" even when the

results were terrifyingly bad?

Anxiety may be viewed as fear of the unknown. When one walks alone in the

forest and is afraid there might be a bear about to attack, one is not experiencing fear, rather they are experiencing anxiety. When a bear attacks while you are walking alone in the forest, you are experiencing fear. Anxiety is fear without an object. Our anxiety on examining our own behaviors speaks directly to the fact that there is no clear cut, universally accepted concept of right and wrong.

How do we handle this situation?Clearly, the experience of guilt accomplishes little. As we examine our past, we can make a conscious effort to use that twinge of guilt to identify those times we may have made decisions we would like to take back, determine if they were really decisions made in error, and learn from them. Within our lodges, we accept

our brothers for who they are. While we may not always agree with each other, we allow diverse opinions. We listen patiently, We debate. We judge options, but we do not judge our brothers. We should afford ourselves this same courtesy, listening to our subconscious, debating our past course of action, and judging our past behavior. Then, we should learn from our mistakes and get on with life. We should be the best we can be, and forgive ourselves, even as we forgive others.

Brother Fred Ayers

Fredericksburg Lodge #794

PM Syracuse Lodge #309

Syracuse, KS.

The Guiding Light / Dec. 2015 13