Monday, February 2, 2009

Desirable Characteristics

I was watching the news early last week about politicians in the moment and someone hadn’t been honest. I know. What a shocker. So I thought I’d pose the question to my online friends, “What ONE characteristic is the MOST important in people? Not just in a mate/friend/children---ANYONE. I was interested in knowing what everyone looks for in a person to qualify them as “worthy”. After just going through the elections and deciding on officials that are to represent ourselves, I assumed (no jokes) that we all have a characteristic or two that we look for in a person when we make these kinds of decisions. I was quite surprised by the comments I got back to my question, so I decided to open it up to a wider audience and posted it as a poll in the larger community. I used all the characteristics that had made the comments to my original post as the choices for the poll. The poll findings were as follows, out of 53 total votes,

Courage 0%
Confidence 1%
Affection/Kindness 9%
Sense of Humor 11%
Honesty/Integrity 33%
Self-Respect/Respect for others 43%

I am a bit curious about the difference between the top two vote getters. Granted, both are highly important. And with further consideration, I might begin to wonder, or even conclude that respect is inclusive of honesty. Let’s just check the definitions according to


to hold in esteem or honor: I cannot respect a cheat.
to show regard or consideration for: to respect someone's rights.


the quality or fact of being honest; uprightness and fairness.
truthfulness, sincerity, or frankness.
freedom from deceit or fraud.

Hmmm, I don’t see any similarities really, do you? Respect does not equal honesty. Yet, I see that the word “fairness” is used in one of the definitions of honesty. Wouldn’t fairness equal the “consideration” of respect?

I find it hard to believe that 64% of people polled would prefer other characteristics in a person over honesty and integrity. But it’s kind of telling too. Look around us. Marriages aren’t expected to go the distance. Politicians (that we vote into office) often find themselves “outed” in some sort of scandal during their tenure or are said to be non-progressive and staid old-school.

Notice we seem to like the feel-good characteristics? The ones that make us smile and have warm fuzzy feelings are desirable. The ones that’s not hard to accept or give, the ones that validate with enjoyment. Hearing truth is often coupled with hard news, harsh news, things that don’t make us happy, things that we’d rather not stress over or think about. Truth causes us to make a decision and stand for a cause or belief. And most of the time that puts our beliefs front and center and then we are committed to that belief, for public scrutiny. And in today’s tolerant society, there’s not much tolerance for firm, staunch stands that are rooted in being honest. Being honest, in itself, is usually found to be very intolerant these days. It doesn’t make us feel good. It doesn’t put a smile on our face, make us want a group hug or feel inclined to sing a verse from Kumbaya.

Personally, I would like to see a few more less-agreeable and feel-good people in this world in exchange for some honesty. Some cold, hard truth, tell it like it is and let me know where things stand. I can deal with nearly anything, I have found, if I know the truths involved. As soon as some fact is glossed over or misrepresented, then how I deal with it is not based in a real situation. It’s a flawed situation, thus my solution is flawed. Could we possibly begin to grow a thicker skin again and start dealing with in truths? Man-up, woman-up, cowboy up, grow up. Get real and get honest and start expecting honesty from people. Start demanding honesty from people.

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