Defining values

Have you ever had words just pop into your mind and then settle in for a while?

Like a song that someone whistles in passing, and then the annoying fallout of having the tune run around in your head all day until you find yourself whistling it. The fun part is when you hear “Argh!” from someone who overhears you and the “I’ll never get that out of my head now!” curse that follows.

Does it sound like I am no stranger to this experience? Well, you’re right.

This week, however, I find words rolling around in my head. Words that describe situations I see or that may define my own actions or those of others.

I would like to share some of these words with you, and also their definitions, per Encarta Dictionary.

First up, accuracy.

Sounded out as ac-cu-ra-cy, this is a noun that means “the correctness or truthfulness of something.” This term is the flagship of the trinity principles of journalism: A-B-C, Accuracy, Brevity, Clarity. Without accuracy, brevity and clarity might as well be sailing wayward in the middle of an ocean of misinformation and irresponsibility.

Which brings me to the next word:  responsibility.

Responsibility, for those who struggle with this word, means “the state, fact, or position of being accountable to somebody or for something.” Other definitions include “somebody or something for which a person or organization is responsible,” “the blame for making something that has happened” and “authority to make decisions independently.”

This one six-syllable word drives a great many people in their exploits and ventures. It is that drive that expands beyond their own wishes and wants and holds them accountable to a bigger purpose.

The burden of responsibility a person feels can be handled in many ways, but if it maneuvered in a positive, selfless way, a person may find themselves encountering the next word: integrity.

This one is difficult for some people.

Say it slowly, in-teg-ri-ty. This noun means “the quality of possessing and steadfastly adhering to high moral principles or professional standards.” Many people lose this ability when they begin to focus on the money-making aspects of a venture.

When money becomes the focus of any efforts, the person or organization suddenly finds themselves slipping down on the integrity meter. This doesn’t mean that a venture can’t or shouldn’t make money, but one must be true to founding principles and adherence to a meaningful purpose.

Just for fun, I’ll throw in these two definitions for free.

Principle: a standard of moral or ethical decision-making.

Purpose: the reason for which something exists or for which it has been done or made; the desire or the resolve necessary to accomplish a goal.

When done properly, one who pursues life with these beliefs also have another defining term: compassion.

The noun compassion, com-pas-sion, means “sympathy for the suffering of others, often including a desire to help.”

In a society that has become more and more self-involved, this word, compassion, separates its practitioners from the crowd. It often forms a community with responsibility and integrity, for once a person’s eyes are opened and one becomes focused on the needs of others, the heart follows suit, and that’s the door through which compassion enters. The feeling for a sense of responsibility either follows closely on the heels of compassion or announces its arrival.

Community. That’s an interesting word. I use it a lot. It’s never far from my tongue and always wandering around in my head.

Community encompasses “a group of people who live in the same area, or the area in which they live” and “a group of people with a common background or with shared interests within society.”

Brown County is a community. The people who live here are a community. Those who strive for the foundational success of the residents and who believe in service to the people here are community. Those who care beyond the monetary value of the rolling hills and changing autumn hues are community. Those who immerse themselves in the activities and organizations are community. Those who sacrifice all to hang on to their existence in this unique, caring, connected, compassionate, territorial place are community.

I could fill many more sentences and paragraphs with the meaning, purpose and benefits of community, but I prefer instead to address a couple of negative words that have been sneaking and lurking around in my head.

Carelessness. This noun means “lack of careful attention to the details of something; an example of negligence or of a failure to take enough trouble with something; lack of concern about something.”

There is no excuse for having careless practices, especially when one is responsible for the informative mission in a community. It’s almost as unforgivable as the second negative word rumbling around in the recesses of my conscious thought: plagiarism.

For those who may be foreign to this term, plagiarism is “the process of copying another person’s idea or written work and claiming it as original.” Enough said about that one.

Those who find themselves frequently exhibiting these two terms have not yet grasped the concepts mentioned earlier in this rant: integrity, responsibility, compassion and accuracy. But some lessons have to be learned in their own time. My concern is always the damage that will be caused before those seeds come to fruition.

Now, if someone could help me get Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” out of my head, I’d appreciate it. Oh, the catastrophes that occur when the iPod and ‘80s collide.

Now it’s in your head.


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