"I Hope . . . I've Earned What All Of You Have Done For Me"
Not long ago, a discussion board user posted a note about a theoretical government negotiator misrepresenting the truth during contract negotiations. The responses were on target. Vern Edwards was succinct and said: "Don't tell a lie!" Napolik said: "I would be . . . concerned with losing my credibility in the contractor's eyes." Now, its time for a story from over 40 years ago.
It was my sophomore year in college and it was the night before the final exam in second year Spanish. I didn't learn very much Spanish during that semester. Anyway, our class's resident thief picked a lock, stole the final Spanish exam and answers, and brought them back to the dormitory that night. Almost everyone had copies of the test--except for two of us. A friend and I decided to be honest. The next day, during the exam, our professor carefully placed screws on students' desks to let them know he knew about the cheating and the cheaters were screwed.
After the final, my friend asked me: "How'd you do?" I told him: "I didn't know anything." He responded: "Neither did I." We consoled each other by imagining that we would get an "A" for being honest while the cheaters would get an "F" for cheating. Then we went home for the Summer.
Our grades came a few weeks later and I got a 71 in Spanish--passing was 70. My friend got a 78--apparently, he learned a bit more than me. So much for our "A" for being honest. When we returned to college that Fall, we found out that the cheaters got an "A."
One cannot expect an immediate reward for being honest. Its something you work on every day. Being honest is part of what builds and defines our character. In the end, the character we build during a lifetime is all we have.
This, of course, leads me to a scene from the movie Saving Private Ryan. The scene is in the American Cemetery at Normandy, France. The aged Private Ryan visits the grave of his Captain who in his last breath told him to "Earn this. Earn it." The Private Ryan character kneels beside the grave and speaks to his Captain. Then he gets up and asks his wife for confirmation of his life by saying: "