In Search of Noble Men
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Ebb and Flow.
I don’t know if it’s my hopeless romanticism or if I simply have an old-fashioned streak, but honor, integrity, and nobility are important to me. And I’m discouraged that it’s something I have to look for—actively—in people I encounter in my every day world.
I’ve often been told that my standards are too high. My ex once told me that when it came to issues of integrity, that I was over-the-top and incredibly obstinate, though the work-related issue we were discussing was very black-and-white to me. I’ve been in situations over the years where I went home from work not knowing if I’d have to resign the next day because I couldn’t do what I’d been ordered to do and wondering if my temporary lack of income would cost us our home. Fortunately, standing my ground meant they found some other poor schmuck to sign off on what I wouldn’t. Sometimes those poor schmucks got promoted over me and sometimes they got kicked out once they’d done what was required of them.
One thing that makes me so terribly sad is the repeatedly reinforced idea that men can’t be noble in their personal lives. (And for the record, I’ve seen enough clingy, manipulative, and irresponsible behavior in women around me to understand why men think there’s no such thing as a woman who can stand on her own and doesn’t have ulterior motives in offering up her love.) In the past two years, I’ve had so many women in my arena tell me again and again and again how dishonest and dishonor- able men are and how I can’t expect any better. I’m so often told that no man can be faithful and if he’s out of my sight for a couple of days, well, he just won’t be able to help himself. I’m told that it’s impossible for a man to be celibate for any length of time.
When I point out that I am celibate and have been for a long time, I’m told that yeah, but it’s not as difficult for a woman. Others have told me that I’m in the top 2% who believe as I do in regard to honor, compassion, and relationship dynamics. If so, I’d like to think there are men who are in the top 2% with me. I just hate that constant reinforcement of distrust and really want to believe that not every man in the world is out whoring every night. When I tell myself that my wish might actually be a reality, then I have to wonder what’s happened to all the women who tell me I’m wrong. Then again, I also deal with tons of men who tell me their wives don’t under- stand them, that their wives lack the passion they want from me, that they want something no-strings with me, that they want to be a “pleasure point” in my life (still laughing over that one), that life’s too short not to sleep with as many women (and men) as they can while they still can. Seems to be a very vocal majority, and I’m hop- ing that the silent minority are indeed noble men.
It’s been somewhat easier in the past two years to find honor in the professional arena. I can name at least two examples, though I can name dozens more who’ve told me they have “no choice” but to sign off on something unethical because they really need a promotion or an award or they just don’t want to fight it. It’s like the cases in the news recently of student journalists being censored and the teacher who willingly agrees to censor because freedom of speech and freedom of the press aren’t worth losing her job for. Gee, you mean principles are more than just resume fodder?
But I am heartened by the two examples I’ve found. Heartened and disheartened.
In one case, a man walked out of a six-figure job over an ethical issue. No replacement salary on the horizon. Major financial, legal, and life disruptions.
In the second case, a man refused to hide the truth from his customer, and though he wasn’t fired, he faced constant pressure from his colleagues to be a team player and cave in. My guess is that he will never, in spite of his great track record, be promoted.
These aren’t the kinds of cases that make “60 Min- utes” or the front page of the local papers. Both cases of men doing the right thing, having integrity, acting with honor, being noble. At great personal cost. Neither case was celebrated. Both were buried. Why?
The first man worked for a large regional corporation.
To celebrate his sense of ethics would have meant public recognition of the corporation’s lack of ethics—and that’s not good for business.
The second man never expected anyone out his organization to know what had happened, but someone who admired him brought it to my attention when I had a chance to get some nice recognition for people doing “the right thing.” Of course, “the right thing” is a nice ideal, but public acknowledgment of his integrity would have meant public acknowledgement of the lack of integrity among his colleagues and their attempts to cover up the truth. I was told no, it would make someone else look bad if we gave the guy kudos for doing what the right thing. Thus, his noble actions were swept under the rug of politics.
So maybe there ‘s more integrity, honor, and nobility out there than we see. Maybe it’s just obscured by all the people who don’t have it.