Last year the Board which I serve on for the State of New Mexico initiated a discussion regarding the ethics which the members of our profession should be held to. The initial discussion was spurred by the unethical decisions which one of our Board members had made and it led to a Code of Conduct which we all agreed we should adhere to. Once that was established we revised the language to include all of the other people whose performance we as a board are led to pass judgment on. We then held a stakeholders meeting to open the discussion of this Code of Conduct and fielded their questions and comments. What will come of that is a shared vision of the standards of action and performance which we as a group feel to be appropriate behavior. In the event there is a concern then the individual will be judged by a jury of their peers and disciplined according to the degree of the offence.
Ironically I am in a similar position in my own life at this moment, one supported by the very judgment and consequent comments I have made in regards to my own family history. Even as my sister expressed her anger and disappointment towards my abrupt honesty I must now turn my eye towards myself. This is a welcome, if difficult, exercise and one which, in spite of my constant introspection, has been strengthened by a few powerful insights from a complete stranger. Even I would question the merit in allowing such an influence to spur such a deep study of myself except for the fact that I have chosen to allow this. It is a rare and welcome pleasure to encounter someone who I consider to be wiser than myself, though our knowledge is equal as well. The difference is, from what I have gathered, is that this individual has adhered to a stronger standard than my own, honing in on the knowledge and wisdom of the ages before us. Although I have done the same in so many ways my journey has taken a different avenue and even if I too have held myself to strong values in so many ways he seems to have embraced the challenges I have avoided. Although we have both made the choices which we considered most appropriate for ourselves he has led me to revisit that as well. The questions he will lead me to answer to myself are ones I have strived to address and the resolution will be enlightening to say the least.
This is the intrigue; this person and I come from a similar if different background but the ethics and values we were raised with are most likely very similar. What differs the most is that his family seems to have had a strict edict where mine failed to maintain the same. The first and only time we spoke to each other we quickly fell into a deep and challenging discussion of these standards and insights which have so guided our lives. I was both challenged and thrilled by the content of our conversation and came away from it with a heightened awareness of my own capabilities as well as my perceived failings. It has been thirty seven years since I fled the East Coast and all it required of me, taking with me only the degree of discipline which I chose to adhere to. He, in contrast, has lived so much of the life which I chose to reject, even if I too have pursued a profession along the way. What I discovered in the course of our discussion is that my grasp on the code of conduct which I was raised with and the knowledge I possess in regards to that is parallel to my grasp of my second language. I am quite fluent in both but the skills have languished. This man’s direct approach and honest statements, made in both English and Spanish, simultaneously challenged the very reaches of my abilities. How I thrilled at the challenge and I came away enlightened and inspired, I now wish for more of the same.
There is also a question which shines boldly before my consciousness. How much of a challenge am I willing to present myself with? The deepest fear I have is that I will allow myself to languish and I am now presented with a direct opportunity to avert the same. My answer to the question is ‘Yes.” Yes, I am thirsting for a challenge and I shall take away from this perhaps one of the most valuable lessons of my life. God willing I will not only embrace it but will also make every effort to further the opportunity by whatever means necessary to assure I make the best use it. This is not the first time I have been reminded of what may be the greatest weakness in my grand scheme of things for even if I enrich my life through the written word, both by reading and writing, I have failed to seek out those wiser than myself in the manner that I should. If I have sorely missed the intellectual exchange so I have grown comfortable in its absence. I could remain on that same path and perhaps even be satisfied but there is the gnawing doubt that I am not choosing well. If I have taken my own family to task for the same only justifies the need for me to step up also. I have always said that it is not so much the degree of ability which a person has which is important but rather the amount of it they use which determines the integrity of the person. If I do not put my skills and talents to their best use I have failed by my own measure, something I have no intention of doing.
Will I change my direction in response to this encounter? Will I set forth a more sincere effort to live my life to its fullest by not only embracing my dreams but also by delving deeper into my self defined destiny? I want to! Will it take some greater measure of sacrifice of some of the pleasures I so enjoy? Perhaps, but if I approach it in the proper manner the enrichment I receive will more than make up for it. In the end I will be stronger and clearer for the effort, the two things which I have strived to preserve from the start. If I am to equal and fulfill my own standards I will embrace the opportunity and the outcome will be assured. If I am to define a code of conduct for others I should certainly hold myself to that same standard!