Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Yes, why can’t they?

What, you may ask, do I mean by ‘real.’ Well, here’s a Bible verse which encapsulates much of what is meant by being real. It’s as follows: ‘Simply let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No”; anything beyond this comes from the evil one’ (Mt 5:37) [NIV]. So many people I know---especially young people---when invited to some event and asked to RSVP say, ‘I hope to come, but I may have something else on. I’ll let you know.’ What that means is they are waiting to see if they get a better offer. It almost invariably means they won’t be coming to your event. Why can’t they just say ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ and be done with it?

Here’s something that really gets me upset. I am a lawyer, and over the years I have acted for several government instrumentalities. I still do. Now, I want to speak about one of those organizations and its CEO. This CEO would often push things beyond the four corners or boundaries of the law. He would never let the law stand in the way of doing what he wanted to do. On several occasions, whilst acting as in-house lawyer, I wrote to him advising that what the organization was doing was wrong---indeed, unlawful. You see, statutory notices and orders affecting persons’ rights and interests were being issued by staff of the organization, and those notices and orders were invalid. That was exceedingly unfair to the persons affected by these notices and orders. In addition, the organization itself was being exposed to actionable liability.

Now, part of the role of a lawyer---especially an in-house lawyer---is to protect the organization against all risks, including itself. So, I dutifully drew the attention of the CEO---on several different occasions---to the various illegalities and irregularities (which, by the way, related to matters other than just notices and orders), and I politely requested that the CEO issue a direction to staff that all draft notices and orders be submitted to me for checking and review before they issued. Despite several emails to the CEO about this matter, I never received any reply---not even an acknowledgment of one of my communications. Some years later the Ombudsman investigated the organization and wrote a scathing report on the many illegalities and irregularities. It was one of the most damning reports of the type in question I have ever read in my 35 years in the law. Only some time thereafter did the CEO issue that direction to staff. Better late than never. No, not really.

I never did find out why the CEO ignored all of my emails, but it’s clear to me that he didn’t care whether the notices and orders were invalid. Not only did he fail to show respect to me, he exposed his organization to great risk. He was not real. You see, part of being real---a huge part of it---is showing respect to others. Now, this man---this CEO---would say to staff, ‘Respect must be earned.’ Rubbish! If that were the case, we would only show respect to those who are like us, and who give us what we want. Anyone who disagreed with us, or stood in our way, would not be the recipient of our respect. No, respect must be given to all people, regardless of who they are and what they do. That doesn’t mean we have to like them nor does it mean that we must always approve of their actions. Respect is, however, due to all persons because they are---human beings … persons among persons! Mind you, respect must also be given to all manifestations and forms of life, and that includes plants, animals and the environment. I digress.

The point is this---being real means being authentic. Such a person always acts and speaks from a position of integrity. Interestingly, the word ‘integrity’ stems from the Latin adjective integer, meaning ‘whole’ or ‘complete.’ Integrity is all about telling yourself the truth, whereas honesty is all about telling others the truth. Now, there can be no integrity without honesty. The word ‘honesty’---from the Latin noun honestās, means ‘oneness’---that is, oneness with the truth, the facts. Facts are occurrences in space and time---in other words ... what is … reality! Thus, anything that is not a fact, or not in accordance with the facts, is ... dishonest! Truth is nothing more than a factually correct statement or description of what is. A real person embodies and resonates the truth in all their dealings.

Being real is being whole, complete and at-one with what is. Nothing---absolutely nothing----is superior to that.

Try being entirely real for a day. Then do it again, the next day, and thereafter. In time, you may even get to like it. Before you know it, you will find that 'life ceases to be a fraction and becomes an integer,’ as Dr Harry Emerson Fosdick pointed out in his helpful book On Being a Real Person. I kid you not.

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