Courage in conviction

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:03

    In retrospect, the young man in the red sweat pants was probably just looking for a little acceptance when he jumped in on the conversation between two very trendy-looking (read: scary) young women at the commuter rail station. “Ya know, like, it’s my life, ya know,” the young woman with the nose ring was saying. “No way am I going to spend it tied to some loser.” Her nearly bald companion agreed - expletively. “All right!” said the energetic young man in the sweats. “Better dead than wed!” The two young women glanced at the young man, then at each other. “Have either of you guys ever been married?” Red Pants continued, sounding as if he had inhaled a few too many bus fumes. “I was married once. It sucked!” Ms. Nose Ring rolled her eyes. Ms. Baldy squeezed her friend’s arm. “Of course, there are a few guys I wouldn’t mind spending the rest of my life with, ya know?” Ms. Nose Ring said slowly, deliberately. “Like Chris Evans. Or Taylor Lautner.” “Definitely,” Ms. Baldy added with contrived enthusiasm. “If I could find a great guy like that, I’d want to be married to him forever.” “All right!” Red Pants said. “True love forever! That’s cool!” Ms. Nose Ring eyed him contemptuously. “But who wants the whole domestic hassle?” “Yeah, who needs it?” Ms. Baldy added. “Right on!” said Red Pants. Both girls laughed. Clearly, they were toying with the guy, and he was playing right into their hands. They continued bouncing him back and forth until his train arrived. “So what do you think?” Ms. Nose Ring asked him as he started for the train. “Should my friend here get married? The boy studied both girls’ faces anxiously. Obviously, he was trying to figure out if they were for it or against it, since that was going to have a lot to do with his response. “I don’t know,” he said, pausing at the door. “Whatever you think - go for it!” He jumped on the train, turned and saluted the girls with an enthusiastic fist pump. “All right!” The two girls laughed heartily as the commuter train pulled away. “What a loser,” Ms. Nose Ring snorted. Ms. Baldy agreed - expletively. It’s hard to respect someone who is afraid to take a stand. Even if that stand is unpopular, you have to admire those who have courage in conviction. We used to call this quality personal integrity, although it seems to be rarely mentioned in this era of success at any cost. But in the 19th century philosopher Charles Simmons said that “integrity is the first step to true greatness.” Personal integrity comes from deep within. Only you can know what you really believe, and only you can determine how true you are going to be to those convictions. Are we sincerely concerned about the homeless and hungry, or is that just the “politically correct” attitude to affect? Do we honestly worry about the safety of our environment, or do we mindlessly throw garbage out the car window when we don’t think anyone else is watching? Do we publicly pray for peace, and then privately hurl epithets at the first motorist who makes an ill-timed turn in front of us? “Nothing is a last sacred but the integrity of your own mind,” said Emerson. “Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world.” Or, in other words, don’t be a loser.